So You Have Gay Friends and Think You Are a Christian?

Jesus and Peter
Treasures of the Bible (Jesus’ Ministry) — Jesus, Walking on the Water, Rescues Peter

A friend of mine recently couldn’t find his youngest boy. He and his wife looked all over their house and once they realized he really wasn’t there, they called the police. This father assumed (and hoped) his son went to a friend’s house without telling them and he planned on yelling at his son and even spanking him on the spot for wandering off when he found him. After an hour of scouring the neighborhood, an hour that felt like an eternity, he finally found him at a neighbor’s house. But in that moment, he couldn’t yell, he couldn’t spank his son like he planned on doing, all he could do was hold him in his arms because he was safe.

He said that he got just a small glimpse of what God feels when one of his lost children is found. That he was shocked that he didn’t react the way he had planned and that his heart was so full of gratitude that the only thing that came out of him was love for his lost son.

Jesus came to this earth to get back what was most precious to God; his lost children.

“his lost children”

But who are his lost children? Who are the ones that are SO precious to God that he would send his only begotten Son to die a horrific death in OUR place just to reconcile us, to save us? Who are the ones that have God’s love, his affection, his heart?

The answer… We ALL are!

Every.

Last.

One of us.

It doesn’t matter what you have done. God loves you. It doesn’t matter what mistakes you have made. God wants you. Not everyone will accept this gift and many will choose to live eternally apart from God and stay lost but regardless, God loves all of us!

So when some in the body of Christ elevate certain sins over others, namely homosexuality, and don’t reach out to those individuals in love because of that sin, they are not only making a mistake but committing sins (plural) themselves.

The sin of hypocrisy. The sin of arrogance. The sin of selfishness…

So if you have gay friends and think you are a Christian, you are truly living like Christ. If you are trying to be a light to those who are lost, you are living the way Christ called all of us to live. We are called to be in the world and not of it. I think the Church focuses on the second half of that verse a little too much sometimes, “not of it.”

Sometimes while trying not to be of the world we forget to be in it.

Don’t get me wrong, we cannot condone sin in any form. Being gay is clearly a sin and should not be celebrated (Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Romans 1:26-28). But those who struggle in that area should be loved, should be befriended and shown that they are important to God. Let them see God in you, not God’s judgment through you, after all, there is not one of us who does not struggle in some area. As I see it, Jesus treated the lost this way, never condoning sin but always loving the sinner. He was the most critical of the religious of His time; the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the religious leaders… Jesus called them “white-washed tombs” (Matthew 23:27) meaning they were hypocrites, self-centered and missing the point of true love. They focused on the law too much and did not love people.

The law is important but it never supersedes God’s love. Love fulfills the law. Like many things in life, you cannot have one or the other, there needs to be a balance of the two. But it seems to me more and more “Christians” in our day are known by the law, not by the love. Again, not to say one replaces the other, just that Jesus was known by His love and I really believe we should too.

So while some celebrate the LGBTQ community and others treat them like they are committing the unforgivable sin, we should open our arms, our hearts, and our homes to EVERYONE in love to show them that they are cherished by us and subsequently, by God. Just maybe that will make the difference in their lives and help open their eyes.

By Clark Campbell
Theologetics.org

 

What Believing in Evolution Actually Means

Earth
The geocentric model according to the Bible of Martin Luther.

There is no denying it, micro-evolution exists, although the term itself is quite misleading. Micro-evolution is a term that is commonly used to describe adaptation within a species to help them survive. These adaptations never result in a new species, there is not even one piece of observable scientific evidence to suggest otherwise. Adaptations always result in the same or less information within that species DNA code and for macro-evolution to occur would require new information which simply does not happen.

This blog is not meant to be about the absurdities of macro-evolution. There are great resources out there that go in to much detail about micro and macro-evolution from a Biblical standpoint (Mike Riddle and Answers in Genesis are two resources that immediately come to mind but there are many more). This blog is about what it means for a Christian to believe in macro-evolution (which I will simply call evolution from here on out). So it is my hope that if you have read this far, you will find this helpful and not hurtful.

For a Christian to believe in millions of years of evolution means:

1. The authority of scripture is compromised since the writing style of Genesis is “historical narrative” and not poetry:

The normal order for a Hebrew narrative sentence is:
Conjunction–Verb–Subject–Object.

The order in poetic writing is:
Subject–Verb–Object

The style of writing of Genesis 1 is historical, using the waw-consecutive to express consecutive action (waw = and).

http://www.ldolphin.org/genmyth.html

So for example, if I were to choose to believe that the creation account is not really a literal six day event as recorded in Genesis but a figurative allegorical story, that would be similar to me believing Jesus was not really a literal man but a figurative fictional character. It would be one thing if Genesis were written as poetry but the fact is, it was not. If I were to treat it like it is poetry and not literal, what stops me from doing the same thing with the rest of the Bible?

2. To believe in evolution means man wasn’t made distinct from the animals as recorded in Genesis but is an animal.

“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.””
Genesis 1:26

“then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”
Genesis 2:7

The Bible teaches that God made us unique, that there was a distinct moment where we were created in God’s image. Not slowly becoming more human, and thus, more like God over millions of years.

3. To believe in evolution means Eve would not have been made as a help-mate for Adam from his rib.

“20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.
21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.
22 And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.”
Genesis 2:20-22

Again, the Bible lays it out clearly, man was literally alone and God took part of Adam to provide a suitable mate for him since no creature that already existed was fit to fill that void.

4. To believe in evolution means thorns, disease, and death would have existed before Adam and Eve since fossils (supposedly existing millions of years before Adam and Eve) show thorns, disease, and death; all of which should have only happened after Adam and Eve sinned.

“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”
Genesis 1:31

“16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden,
17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.””
Genesis 2:16-17

“17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.”
Genesis 3:17-18

Using faulty dating methods, the fossil record is believed to show death and disease existing way before Adam and Eve would have existed. But in Luke 3:23-38 it shows Jesus’s bloodline all the way back to Adam who is portrayed as a literal man. This bloodline places Adam roughly 6,000 years ago. If Adam existed 6,000 years ago but we have fossils supposedly hundreds of thousands to millions of years old that show thorns, disease, and the death of humans and animals, then the Bible would simply be wrong. There is no combining evolution and the Bible, there are logical and scientific ways to show that the Biblical account of creation is the most likely and that the scientific assumptions and dating methods currently used today are false.

5. If humans merely evolved instead of being created the way the Bible says we were, that means God used death to create us and it had nothing to do with Adam and Eve’s sin which seems to negate our need for a savior.

“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned–”
Romans 5:12

I know there are Christians out there; sincere, God-fearing, and Jesus-loving Christians, who hold to the belief that God used evolution to create us. Aside from a lack of true evidence, it seems to me that it is a serious compromise of the authority of Scripture to hold such a view. I hope this blog has given food for thought to any Christian with a theistic-evolution viewpoint or any Christian who hasn’t really considered how to reconcile evolution and the Bible. I do not mean to try and condemn anyone, only to point out what seems like the logical conclusions of a theistic-evolution worldview.

By Clark Campbell
Theologetics.org

Why Didn’t God Make Us Perfect Without Sin?

satan-fall-milton
Gustave Doré (engraving); Satan, the Fallen Angel, is flung from Heaven and nears the confines of the Earth on his way to Hell [Paradise Lost, John Milton; 1667]; c. 1866.
God is perfect and God is holy.

So why didn’t God make humans and angels perfect so that they would never sin?

If we can even deduce this, the following are some of the questions I would consider to help us understand why God didn’t make us perfect:

A. Could God have created a perfect being with free will that would never sin?
B. In heaven, will we lose our free will or will it still be possible for us to sin?
C. Why did Lucifer sin in the first place?

D. Why does God allow sin?


A. Could God have created a perfect being with free will that would never sin?

Consider Philippians 2:5-7
“5
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.…”

Now it seems as though even Jesus Himself outlined human equality with God something that cannot be attained and Jesus was man and God! (This concept of Jesus being 100% man and 100% God is confusing but a brief explanation can be found here under Jesus’ Humanity & Eternality)

Also consider that the question “Could God have created a perfect being with free will that would never sin?” seems to cause an issue; If God were to create a perfect being with free will that never sinned, then it is possible He would in one sense have created a being that was equal to God (at least on some level). A being that is perfect without sin would also be holy, so this seems to indicate that He would have just created another God (this is assuming that perfection is all-encompassing).

Now, this thought process implies that what makes God God is His being perfect and holy. This may not be entirely true since God is more than perfect and holy. There is also His eternality, aseity, necessity, and a list of other characteristics you can find here but it is worth thinking about.

Someone may ask, “If it’s true that God wouldn’t make someone perfect to begin with, how is it possible to become perfect in heaven?” Well, the saints (those who accept Christ as Lord and Savior) were not created perfect but have been perfected by the blood of Jesus. A caterpillar does not become a new creature when it transforms into a butterfly. It’s existence doesn’t cease, it is in a sense “perfected”. The Christian does not cease to be one creation and enter into a different existence. It transforms into perfection.

So, it seems that we will possibly be transformed into perfection in heaven but not into perfect beings, at least not perfect like God is perfect so there seems to be a difference.

B. In heaven, will we lose our free will or will it still be possible for us to sin?
&
C. Why did Lucifer sin in the first place?

One would assume that in heaven, we will know God and His perfectness. That we would still possess free will so to speak but we would never want to deny our Creator because of our knowledge and love of Him? This has been the explanation I have always believed but it still seems like it circles back to the question; Why in heaven would Lucifer sin being in what seems like a similar situation?

I personally believe the answer to question B. is no we will not lose our free will but we won’t want to sin. One reason presented to me for why we could possess free will in heaven and never sin is that we will likely know the difference from being in a place where suffering and pain exists to being in a place where it does not (somewhat separated from God’s presence on earth at God’s discretion). Lucifer had no such knowledge. So it is possible Lucifer ignorantly thought he could take God’s place and it subsequently got him and all the angels who took his side thrown out of heaven because of it. But what could have started this “chain reaction” so to speak?

I have written before about my personal thoughts on sin and/or evil possibly being the direct result of God’s absence but I recently read an article by John Piper (Where Did Satan’s First Desire for Evil Come From?) about an idea worth pondering; that basically God’s glory somehow being hidden from Lucifer may explain Lucifer’s initial desire to “be” God. So maybe, while Lucifer didn’t know what we know about the ugliness involved in the separation from God, some degree of separation may have sparked the flame within him. This is not to say that it is absolutely how it happened, it is just a possibility. Why would God do that to begin with you may ask? I will give my explanation in the next section.

D. Why does God allow sin?

God is perfect and God is holy. He created us with the sin plan. Somehow this is better than making us perfect without sin. I believe that the reason why it is better is evident in the Genesis account of God making the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil for Adam and Eve, and even before with Lucifer by possibly hiding His glory from Lucifer so he and all of creation could experience an unforced choice to love God which seems to require free will.

Another article I read by

So, all things considered, it appears that God created humans and angels with the ability to sin (freely deny Him) because He wanted us to be able to love. God did not want robots, after all, so He allowed himself to be hidden just enough that we must choose to believe, follow, and love Him. It is the sad reality that sin separates us from God. God does not want us to be separated from Him but because of the gift of free will which God has given each of us, we can choose to live a life without Him. Because God is holy, He cannot give anyone a “free pass” and let sin go unpunished but the good news is that someone already bore your punishment for you and His name is Jesus! All you need to do is accept His gift and turn from your sin. It is my prayer that you choose to do so right now, because you may not get another chance tomorrow and there is nothing worse than a lack of God for eternity.

By Clark Campbell with input from Derrick Stokes and Paul Grodell
Theologetics.org

Thoughts, Prayers, Amens and Lies

Praying-Child
Jacques Hnizdovsky (1915-1985) Praying Child Notecard

I had a discussion about prayer with a few individuals online that brought up some interesting ideas, this is just part of that conversation. It all started when this statement was made:

Person A “Any of us who tweet or post “prayers” for people in tragedy and do not follow through on them are in sin. Any of us who merely tweet or post “thoughts” going out to people in tragedy are painfully mistaken. And any of us who broadly dismiss the honest prayers for people in tragedy are tragically blind to true power.”

Now this first statement seemed pretty straight forward to me and a rather truthful statement as well but the conversation that ensued brought up some interesting questions about prayer.

Person BJust making the statement “you are in my prayers” requires the conscious thought in reference and affirmation [of] a higher power and if sincere IS in essence ……a prayer

So as I see it, here is the “theory” being presented for lack of a better word;

A Christian’s thought is a prayer.

If someone has a prayer request and you say to them “You are in my prayers”, because you think it, agree with what they are saying, and have a relationship with God, because God knows your thoughts, you in essence just prayed. Let us continue…

Me “Person B, your statement is an interesting one, at first thought I’ll admit it sounded like a cop-out to actually taking the time to say a specific prayer but when I thought about it, I’m wondering if there could be a little something to that statement…

Person A “Not sure that I agree with that person B. Tacitly referring to a higher power and affirming the existence of a higher power is not in essence communicating with that higher power. Prayer is directed to God. Telling someone “you are in my prayers” is directed toward that person. Also, what is the content of this “prayer” when you say “you are in my prayers”? It seems rather vacuous. In other words, when you say “you are in my prayers”, what are you actually praying for or about on behalf of that person?

Person BIf a person is in your thoughts even and you have a personal relationship with God – any conscious thought of that person while thinking of God would be as sincere and direct a petition to God as any plastic prayer one could muster.

One could go to church and pray every prayer in the book standing or kneeling or arms raised….it matters not.

I would say the almighty needs not for you to do that. Your own relationship with God and your conscious and heartfelt sincere thought is enough. …”

Person A “…When you say “my prayers are with you,” there is no specific petition attached to that, and that is directed at the person and not to God. Prayers can be communicated all sorts of ways, but there must actually be a communication, which implies specific content. So, I’m not sure in what sense simply saying it makes it true…

So, what is being presented now is that saying you will pray for someone is not a prayer because prayer is a conversation between you and God, but that conversation has not happened yet when you simply tell someone you will pray for them. A valid point.

Person BDo you believe God knows your intent? God has grasp of your conscience? God is aware of your conscious and subconscious? That God knows exactly what you are thinking?

Person AIf you do not actually pray, did you have intent to pray?

Person BI agree that if you say that (with intent to pray) and never pray- you’re right (right about not praying being a sin). However if you have a conscious contact with God- and you tell someone you will keep them in your prayers- God can take it from there- you just prayed.

MeThe one point that has not been specifically brought up is that the Bible, and Jesus Himself, commands us to pray specific prayers beyond just agreeing with others needs. The agreement is basically the amen part of the prayer. I personally think that person B is onto something if the comment to someone’s request for prayer was “amen” because that implies “I hear your need, I agree with you and stand with you and believe God’s will will be done.” But if someone were to say “I’m praying” since the Bible is clear on what prayer is, that person should actually take the time to say a prayer.

A few more things were said but one last statement stood out to me:

Person BIf God already knows your specific content whether it be verbalized or not- what need there be for an Amen. God already knows you are in agreement. God already knows if you’re NOT in agreement!!

So one last point I would like to make is that by this logic, one could argue that prayer is not needed at all. If God knows all and is all powerful, then who are we to think that making requests to God in prayer will make any difference?

Well, the problem with this line of thinking is that, like I brought up in the conversation, the Bible and Jesus Himself commands us to pray. Prayer is for our benefit not Gods and is specifically defined. Prayer allows us to grow closer to God, and while God is unchanging by nature with His immutability and impassibility, we can change, so the outcome of a situation can change because we pray.

An example of this is in Genesis 6:6

“And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.

Did God make a mistake in making men on the earth? Did he change his mind about his creation? If he was grieved in his heart, does that mean he has changing emotions the same way we have changing emotions?

No. No. And no.

The simple answer is that God does not change, we do. God is holy and we are not. When sin enters the picture, God must act, he is unchanging in this way. So the same principle can be applied to prayer. While we cannot change God’s mind, I believe prayer can move God to act in ways we cannot fully understand and no matter what, prayer lets us become more intimate with the one who made us, we can draw closer to him through our prayers. Who wouldn’t want that?

By Clark Campbell with quotes from a random online conversation
Theologetics.org

Option c: The Time-Salvation Paradox

Calvin-and-Arminius
Portraits of John Calvin and Jacobus Arminius

There is one aspect about God and our understanding of Him that I felt compelled to write about. This one area has divided Christians for centuries, and that is the subject of God’s sovereignty in relation to man’s free will.

Now, I know this is a topic which has been perpetually argued, but it is because of this fact that I had felt so passionate about the subject. I would love to end the debate, although I am not that naive to think that the argument I am about to outline could do so but it is my hope that it might possibly provide Christians who take a strong stance for Calvinism or Arminianism a more common ground and that is Option c.

To preface the argument, there are two reasons I think it is so important that Christians (notably Christian apologists) come to some agreement on the subject of God’s will and man’s will.

The first reason, is that when skeptics see how different Christians, churches, and denominations disagree and possibly even argue about God’s omnipotence, it builds a wall instead of providing a door.

The second reason, is that if the subject comes up when witnessing to someone who has doubts about how God’s will and man’s will can be understood, I feel taking a strong stance for Calvinism or Arminianism has the potential to hurt one’s witness, allow me to explain this:

For the Calvinist, “IF” he is wrong about the elect and we do have free will when it comes to choosing Christ, this can cause people to reject Christ when presented this view because they may feel their decision doesn’t matter when really it does (remember this is “IF” the Calvinist is wrong, similar reasoning is used in Pascal’s Wager).

On the other hand, a skeptic may argue against an Arminian’s views stating those views place God in a position of diminished authority, which causes logical inconsistencies with the Christian’s beliefs of God. So what I suggest is the third option which is my argument, so let’s examine Option c and what I like to call the Time-Salvation Paradox.

In my studies and thoughts about salvation, human will, and God’s transcendence, I have realized I was limiting God by thinking that what God has decreed is in the past. For example–when God chose the elect. And as it turns out, this is a very important detail with some surprising consequences. The idea occurred to me one day after reading this passage in the Bible:

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day
is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”
2 Peter 3:8

This is not a verse one typically sees referenced when God’s sovereignty and man’s free will is argued, but stick with me. The one conclusion that I have come to is that the only people who choose God are the ones He elects, but God only elects those who choose Him. This statement alone may not sound logical but the reasoning behind it however, I believe, makes all the difference.

Option-c-

If you take into account the fact that God did choose those He elected before the foundations of the earth, and since God exists outside of time, what has happened with God may not have happened yet with us. To say that it did would mean that God is subject to the same confines and laws of time as we are. Because God is outside of time, what has already happened, (i.e. His choosing the elect) can be said to have not yet happened until we choose God (illustrated in the symbol above).

What I like about this stance is that it focuses on what God can do instead of what God cannot do. Calvinism says that God cannot make man with free will because that would compromise His authority. Arminianism says that God cannot choose people unto salvation because that would compromise His love and justice. Option c says that God can do both of those things, the paradox, if it can even be called that, is understanding how.

Again, God exists outside of our laws of time and space, and thus, outside of our understanding. God’s “time” is not faster or slower than ours, it is nonexistent as He is the creator of it and not bound by it. This is a foundational Christian belief about God, so with that in mind…

A summary of the argument is as follows:

Time-Salvation-Paradox 1.36.13 AM

God is spirit and He is eternal. God exists outside of time.

Man is physical and he is temporal. Man exists inside of time.

Because God exists outside of the laws of time, a moment that has already happened to man could be said to be happening right now with God.

But because man is temporal, a moment that has happened inside of time has already happened and will not happen again with man.

Also, since God exists outside of time, a moment that has not yet happened to man could be said to have already happened with God.

Similarly, consider how God had chosen the elect outside of time before the foundations of the Earth were even set. (Eph 1:4)

Because man is temporal, a moment that has not yet happened inside of time has not yet happened with man. (1 Cor 7:18, 20, 22, & 24)

And because man exists inside of time, man has not yet been chosen inside of time until the moment he chooses God. (1 Tim 6:12 & 1 Pet 5:10)

So it can be demonstrated that people who do not choose God are personally responsible for their choice for eternity, while people who do choose God do so because they were called by God.

This is because everyone has a God given ability to choose God inside of time, while God has chosen the elect outside of time.

So, brothers and sisters, I hope at the very least this argument has brought you another way to look at God’s sovereignty in conjunction with man’s will. Whatever view you feel fits God’s Word and His character best, let it unify us as the Body of Christ. We are not labeled Calvinists, Arminians or a combination of the two; we are Christians, “Little Christs” saved and loved by God. Let our views bring us together for the sole purpose of glorifying God and spreading the Good News. As long as we are doing that, what else could possibly matter?

By Clark Campbell
This blog was written from multiple papers on our List of Theologetics Papers page posted here and here.

What is MOST Important to God?

michelangelo-buonarroti-creation-of-adam
Detail from The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512 of Sistine Chapel ceiling.

To start, let’s define the terms.

Definition of most:
Greatest in amount or degree.

Definition of important:
Strongly effecting the course of events or the nature of things

So with God, what specific thing strongly effects the course of events or the nature of all things in the greatest amount or degree?

To me, three answers seem to stand out; there is love, there is free will, and there is holiness.

John 3:16-18
16 “For God so loved* the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes** in him should not perish but have eternal life.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned*** already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

*We know love is important to God because He died to redeem us so we might be saved from sin.

**We know free will is important to God because He gives us the opportunity to choose His Son, to choose to spend eternity with Him, and this is evident even from the beginning when God created man and woman in the garden of Eden.

***And we know that holiness is important to God because those who do not choose to believe in Jesus don’t just get a free pass, but condemn themselves to an eternity apart from God.

In contrast, we know it cannot be any of the three by themselves because the others clearly exist, as this is evident throughout all of the Bible.

What does this mean for us?

Well, with all the beliefs in theology, there seems to be 3 levels of importance.

A. Matters of Salvation – How one is saved, the most important. Jesus is God in the flesh. It is only through belief in Him that you can be saved. This is not by works but by faith.

B. Matters of Witnessing – Effecting salvation of others, second most important. Some beliefs can affect your witness to the lost and possibly the salvation of others. Such beliefs include the authority of Scripture, the role of Christians as missionaries, views on God’s sovereignty and man’s free will, etc…

C. All Other Beliefs – The least important. These are the denominational differences that seem to divide believers but are really trivial beliefs; the proper way to baptize, types of acceptable music, religious traditions, etc…

Other theological stances on certain issues may inadvertently lead to violating A or B, for example: condoning homosexuality, gay marriage, or theistic evolution may seem innocent enough but by doing so, one would have to compromise on what Scripture says about those issues and could thus compromise the authority of Scripture leading to that person’s effectiveness in witnessing.

Also, taking something that falls under C too far could effect one’s witness, for example: if believers fight and argue about religious traditions instead of agreeing to disagree and acknowledge that traditions don’t save people, only Jesus does – that can tarnish the view of the Body of Christ for those who observe this division.

So, my brothers and sisters in Christ, because we can deduce that love, free will, and holiness are so important to God, we know that each person is first solely responsible for his/her salvation. After that, we all share a responsibility to present ourselves worthy to be called followers of Christ and to bring the good news to the lost. And lastly, anything else we believe should be laid aside and not cause contention among one another. Let us strive to build each other up and spread the Gospel to all.

For further insight on love click here
For further insight on free will click here and here and here
For further insight on holiness click here

By Clark Campbell
Theologetics.org

Why Did Jesus Want Two Swords Before He Died?

Jesus-Betrayed
Woodcut for “Die Bibel in Bildern”, 1860.
Artist: Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1794-1872)

“Jesus died because He loves us.”

The meaning of this statement was taken to a whole new level for me once I understood why Jesus may have wanted His disciples to be armed on the night before He was crucified.

Luke 22:35-38
35 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”

“Nothing,” they answered.

36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. 37 It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

38 The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”

“That’s enough!” he replied.

I found this passage perplexing since Jesus commanded His disciples to buy swords but then when they said they already had two, Jesus said that would be enough. What was He referring to? Enough for what??

Well I read an article about Dale Martin, who is a professor of religious studies at Yale University (link at the bottom), that may explain it. The article is titled:

Jesus Was Crucified Because Disciples Were Armed, Bible Analysis Suggests

The writer of the article actually tries to prove a different point about how Jesus was trying to be a political leader.

What the writer didn’t mention are verses that would prove this view wrong, that His disciples thought that’s what the Messiah would do all along; free them from Roman rule, but the Bible is clear on all accounts that this was not why Jesus came to earth. Regardless, if Jesus’s disciples having swords did make the crucifixion possible, it is pretty amazing to think about how the events leading up to Jesus’s death actually unfolded.

In Luke, it’s recorded that before Jesus was betrayed, He told His disciples to buy swords. They told Him they had two already and He said that was enough. This seems strange, what good would two swords do all of them? Well according to the article mentioned above, by Roman law, Jesus was crucified because of the swords His disciples were carrying the night He was captured. If that was the case, He actually made sure they had swords so that He would be crucified.

Also, Jesus wanted them to have the two swords to fulfill a prophecy in Isaiah.

Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
    and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
    and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
    and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12)

So what seems like a strange request by Jesus the night before being betrayed, humiliated, beaten, and crucified was possibly a request to ensure that He would be crucified to fulfill the prophecies about Him and save the lost. What an amazing God we serve!

If you read this article and do not know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, please send us an email (Theologetics3.15@gmail.com). We would love to tell you more about how to have a personal relationship with Him!

http://www.newsweek.com/jesus-was-crucified-because-disciples-were-armed-bible-analysis-suggests-271436

By Clark Campbell
Theologetics.org

Do All Scientists Today Really Base Their Beliefs On Science?

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Anonymous – Camille Flammarion, L’Atmosphere: Météorologie Populaire (Paris, 1888), pp. 163

There are natural laws built into the fabric of our existence. Laws like gravity.

These laws, that can be tested by science, are necessary for our existence and are very finely tuned. So much so, that they are difficult to imagine originating on their own by chance.

One such law is so finely tuned, it has been shown that to have happened naturally on its own, by what we know about our universe without something to finely-tune it (God), would be absurd. To have happened on its own would practically be impossible; this law is the cosmological constant.

Scientific theorists have pointed to other possibilities to get around the need for a fine-tuner, one popular idea is that our universe is just one of an infinite number of universes, each with it’s own naturally developed laws. This means that within this “multiverse”, it isn’t absurd to think that our universe is as finely tuned as we measure it to be because if there are an infinite number of universes out there, then at least some would end up with ideally tuned laws for the existence of life.

Scientifically there is a problem with theories like these; they are not scientific. At least not in the sense that they can be measured, observed, and quantified.

Despite this problem, there are many scientists who entertain this idea of a multiverse or even outright believe it exists. The interesting thing is that many of these same scientists would likely be quick to dismiss the idea that God was the one who fine-tuned our universe making it ideal for life on earth.

The point of this article is that the Bible says that nature itself is evidence that God exists.

Romans 1:20
For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

The scientist who says that a multiverse explains our natural existence occurring by chance or the believer who says that God explains our finely-tuned existence by His eternal power are both making the same statement, and that statement is this:

“I have FAITH!”

If you would personally like to know the God who made our universe, the God who is love, the God who knows who you are and wants you to know Him. If you would like to know Him, just message us (Theologetics3.15@gmail.com), we would love to share!

By Clark Campbell
Theologetics.org

The Hidden “Verse” about Jesus in Genesis 5

Jesus
Christ Crucified between the Two Thieves: The Three Crosses Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn) (Dutch, 1606–1669) Drypoint, engraving, and scraping; fourth state of five Gift of Felix M. Warburg and his family, 1941 (41.1.33)

The more I learn about God’s Word, the more I stand in awe at how amazing God is. To think, that the book of Genesis, a book written over 1,400 years before Christ was even born, contains specific information about God’s plan to redeem the world by sending his only Son Jesus, it is simply incredible.

This is a subtle foreshadowing of Jesus in Genesis 5, I first heard about this subtlety in a short YouTube video which is linked at the bottom of this article. Now it should be noted that Hebrew cannot be perfectly translated into English, or any language for that matter, so some may disagree on the definitions presented but each one is a definition of the name or the idea behind the name, so I feel the following is pretty amazing!

In Genesis 5 the genealogy from Adam to Noah and a meaning of each name in English is as follows:

1. Adam = Man
2. Seth = Appointed
3. Enosh = Mortal
4. Cainan = Sorrow
5. Mahalalel = The Blessed God
6. Jared = Shall come down
7. Enoch = Teaching
8. Methuselah = His death shall bring
9. Lamech = The despairing
10. Noah = Rest

Some names have multiple meanings and roots but one translation of each of the ten names, one name after the other reads:

Man Appointed Mortal Sorrow,
The Blessed God Shall come down Teaching,
His death shall bring The despairing, Rest

So there you have it. The story of Jesus in the 5th chapter of Genesis. These names, starting with Adam from the beginning of creation, to Noah around 2,000 years before Jesus was even sent to earth, outline what God had planned all along to get his children back. Not only that, but this is another example of Christ’s divinity.

I believe that God has a reason for every single word in the Bible, every period and every comma, on more dimensions than we can even imagine. Because of that, I believe the ideas behind these names can be translated this way for a reason, and that reason was to show the world in yet another context, that God loves us so much that he gave his One and only Son to save us from our sin!

1. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Adam.html#.VjxQaKSlr7s
2. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Seth.html#.Vjw8E6Slr7s
3. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Enosh.html#.VjxH26Slr7s
4. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Cainan.html#.VjxHyKSlr7s
5. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Mahalalel.html#.VjxIWqSlr7s
6. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Jared.html#.VjxI8aSlr7s
7. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Enoch.html#.VjxOraSlr7s
8. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Methuselah.html#.VjxPQqSlr7s
9. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Lamech.html#.VjxUrKSlr7s
10. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Noah.html#.VjxQBaSlr7s

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsPhPldS6ys

Is Theology and Apologetics Really That Important?

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Saint Paul Preaching on Mars Hill (19th century). T. Shilippoteaux. Engraving. © The Provincial Museum of Alberta. PMA:J99.1968.

“Can’t we just read the Bible and worship God without getting all technical?”

Theology is the study of God and is very important. It helps us to understand the God to whom we are worshiping. Proper worship is based on an accurate understanding of who God is. Anytime anyone says anything about God, what is said is something doctrinal. Theology shapes our image of God and if a person’s theology is false then his or her image of God will also be false, which would ultimately lead to idolatry.

In math, the proper answer will proceed from a proper path.

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 10

In the same way a proper understanding of who God is, what He would do, and what He wouldn’t do; will inform our doxology (praise) and better guide our prayers.

“Are all these big words and facts really that important?”

For salvation? No. Salvation is not found in head knowledge. However, knowing who God is will help us appreciate Him more, understand the Bible better, and also help us discern false teaching.

Often times we have conversations with family, friends, co-workers, church members, and strangers about God or the Bible. At this point you have just assumed the position of theologian. Apologetics, is the term for defending biblical and theological truths. When these discussions become debates or if you’re just defending you position, you have become an apologist. The more “tools” you have in your mental “toolbox” the better equipped you are to make a defense.

“What about witnessing, isn’t it true that arguing will often just hurt your witness?”

Actually no. If a Christian is just trying to win an argument then he or she will probably do more harm than good but if we allow the Holy Spirit to use the knowledge we have to change a non-believer’s false beliefs about the Bible, Christianity, and God, ultimately this head knowledge can make a huge difference in that person’s heart.

With that said, as Christians, we need to make sure the reasoning we use is sound and that we don’t jump on any “bandwagons” when it comes to modern scientific discoveries. Any scientific argument we use to show that the Bible is accurate could one day be shown to be different or even false, and what the Bible was actually saying may be quite different than what we originally thought but the mistake is not apologetics itself, it would be putting too much trust in man’s knowledge and not enough in the Bible.

An example of this is that through false assumptions and faulty dating methods, many modern scientists believe human life has evolved from smaller and less complex lifeforms over millions of years. While it is quite clear in the Bible that this is not the case and it can even be logically and scientifically shown to be false, there are many Christians who have tried to make the argument that God used evolution to create life. By “jumping on that bandwagon” and taking that stance, it actually weakens the validity of God’s Word because God clearly said in Genesis (written as a historical narrative) that he created everything in the universe in 6 literal days. So when a Christian’s argument becomes making the literal in the Bible something figurative, the Bible becomes a fairy tale instead of something real and that is very sad and dangerous.

I would be remiss if I did not include several disclaimers:

  1. Knowledge of God does not equal a relationship with God. Reading a famous person’s autobiography does not mean you had any kind of relationship with them.
  2. Rebutting objections does not equal evangelism. The goal should be to move someone towards the Gospel.
  3. Head knowledge without the knowledge and guidance of the Holy Spirit can lead to haughtiness and pride. You’re not required to attend each argument you’re invited to. Sometimes the Spirit will move you to be quiet even though you’re knowledgeable on the subject. Sometimes the humble unlearned person will gain spiritual insight and uncanny knowledge when they haven’t been taught by any human. Remember “God apposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)
  4. If you read this and want to know more about Jesus, please send us an email at Theologetics3.15@gmail.com we would love to talk with you!