I have contacted you in the past and you were gracious to give me some very good information. I am attaching a copy of an editorial in the local newspaper by the longtime editor whom I recall as a young newsman greatly influenced by the newspapers skeptic owner and esp. one of its outspoken skeptic columnists. His editorial is, at least to me, somewhat of a classic describing the conclusion of the skeptic unbeliever. I want to give him a personal response not that it will necessarily change his mind (but, who knows, God works in His own way). Would you be so kind as to give me a few of your thoughts that I could include? I would appreciate it very much.
link: "No qualms": http://www.wvinter.net/~Haught/No%20Qualms.html
Good to hear from you.
This column gives a very standard unbeliever's view. It demonstrates the typical "philosophical armor" that unbelievers put on in the deliberate hardening of their hearts. The truth is that unbelievers who are decidedly "against" any notion of spirituality as this person is have willfully decided to put that truth they know (from their common human observation of the natural world as God has constructed it) "to death" because they find it not to their liking. All rejection of God comes from the unwillingness to bend one's will to His WILL regardless of the consequences. He almost quotes the poem "Invictus" in this piece, and that is a typical but revealing sentiment, i.e., "I'd rather be the captain of my soul in hell than bow my head to anyone, God included". So what we are dealing here is not a lack of information. It is instead a case of information, natural revelation (see the link), at one time known as true, but rejected not for the truth of it but because the person in question wanted to construct his/her own reality. That is just what Satan did, and staged a rebellion against God to try to bring that new reality about. Of course it was madness, but then when truth is rejected, a lie is always accepted in its place (Rom.1:25-28), and madness results. It is mad to look at the handiwork of God in His creation everyday and claim He doesn't exist. And it is madness to recognize His existence and our own mortality and sinfulness and imagine that without seeking out His solution one can avoid judgment, imagining that there is no reckoning on the other side that will be disastrous. Every human being knows these things at least until they so harden their hearts in self-will that they are able to pretend they never did. For the details on the above, please see the link in BB 4B: God's Plan to Save You. And please do feel free to write back about any of this.
In Jesus Christ through whom alone we have life eternal.
Thank you, again, for your gracious (and rapid response!) to my request. Your response is really what I wanted to say but would have taken a lot longer to say it. If you dont mind, I will attach your comments intact, explaining that it came from you, along with a few comments of my own. I especially like the view "it is mad to look at Gods creation and claim He does not exist and madness to recognize His existence and ignoring Him without judgment". I share Mr. Haughts age bracket (Im 85) but I have been a Christian over 60 years and God has rewarded me with a peace and calmness that is a spiritual world apart from what Mr. Haught claims he appears to be whistling as he tiptoes through the graveyard at midnight, hoping the goblins, demons will not get him. I know that I know my Redeemer lives and I shall awake in His presence.
Thank you for your ministry,
You're very welcome.
You may certainly send this along. It's good of you to engage in this way. One never knows what's in the heart of another. Perhaps his column was actually a call for help. After all, I cannot think of a more unlikely candidate for a spiritual turn around (i.e., true biblical repentance) from unbelief to faith than the apostle Paul . . . before he was saved.
Keep fighting the good fight, my friend!
In Jesus our dear Lord,
Dr. Luginbill (Bob),
I am attaching a copy of what Editor James Haught of the Charleston Gazette had printed on the Religion page last Sunday (Link). I sent him a personal email with no thought of it being printed in the paper. I included the paragraph you sent to me. Turned out to be a two pager. He replied by email that he appreciated my "long" testimonial on my church beliefs and asked if he could print it, which was OK. There is a religious essay on the Religion page each Sunday that is open to anyone that wants to send in their article and that is where I thought mine would appear. He printed it as a separate article under the heading of a direct response to his editorial. Of course the printed article was stripped of all personal references but the primary msg. came through.
Again, I appreciate your paragraph and I surely would have liked to have seen that printed it would have had the sting of the reality of bare truth.
May the Lord continue to bless your ministry.
Thank you; I appreciate your good words.
Keep fighting this good fight, my friend. I know that the Lord is using you just as He means to. I think your response is top notch! If it didn't get H's attention, I am sure that it did speak to others (probably better without my paragraph).
Yours in Jesus our dear Lord,
In my study today I think I understood something important and wanted to ask your view. As I was reading Jonah 3:10, a thought occurred to me regarding God's "change of mind".
Jonah 3:10 (NASB)
When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.
I know that you call such changes on God's part anthropopathisms, but I wonder if there may be another explanation to it, at least in some cases. Take the example of Nineveh. It had been a wicked city. As such, it had earned punishment and had had God's judgment waiting to be executed upon it. God, however, knew that the Ninevites would return to Him and sent them Jonah. Their change of heart resulted in them being saved and punishment was not executed. Let me know what you think of the following interpretation of these events.
God knew that Nineveh deserved judgment. Being righteous, God could not ignore it and not proclaim judgment upon it only because He knew that the city would repent. So for a time Nineveh had punishment "in store" for it. However, God also knew that the city would repent, and when they did, the impending punishment was removed. So effectively God did relent, literally, as the verse says. This change of God's attitude doesn't stand in conflict with His omniscience and this is the key to this interpretation, because I thought that it's not possible to reconcile the two. However, God did proclaim judgment, because not to do so would be a compromise on His righteousness. And then, having seen the repentance, He showed His mercy.
I think this take is in line with other scriptures, which is shown quite clearly by passages referring to Christ dying for us "while we were yet sinners":
Romans 5:8 (NASB)
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
And we know that while we were yet sinners, we were deserving judgment and God's wrath was abiding on us:
John 3:36 (NASB)
He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."
So we were sinners and God's wrath was abiding on us. God's wrath had to abide even on those about whom He knew they would repent, because God is perfectly righteous. It seems to me that God cannot say: "You are a sinner and you are not a believer, but I'm not going to put this impending judgment over you, because I know that in two years you will repent, I will just ignore your current status" this would be a compromise on God's righteousness. It all changes when we actually show repentance God removes the impending judgment we were deserving and our positional status changes from being condemned to being saved. This change, in my opinion, is a true change of God's attitude and it's dictated by His perfect standard of righteousness. It doesn't compromise His omniscience, in fact, His ignorance of sins dictated by His knowledge that a sinner would repent at some point in the future would possibly compromise His righteousness, as I currently understand it.
This take on God's impending judgment and change is in line with your interpretation of His "forbearance" referred to in Romans 3:25:
Romans 3:25 (NASB)
whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;
God's forbearance doesn't mean that the sins committed before the cross didn't matter for Him. They did and they deserved judgment, like all other sins. But God decided not to punish them straight away. His judgment we could still call as having been "pending" until the cross. The judgment was there and then He removed it. Again, this is a true change of God's attitude toward us.
And God is "slow", because He wants us to come to repentance. So the impending judgment is postponed as long as it can be postponed:
2 Peter 3:9 (NASB)
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
Let me know your thoughts. I hope I made my view clear. It makes sense to me, but maybe there is something not biblical about it which I failed to notice. If it's correct, however, I would think that at least some instances that could have been taken as anthropopathisms are actual changes on God's part, in no way compromising God's omniscience and being in line with His perfect righteousness.
In our Lord,
It is true that the number of the saved is few and the number of those who take advantage of the time given us in the short life to respond to the Lord in the manner He desires after believing is smaller still. Nevertheless, we shall persevere and attempt to be found among the number of those who stand in the gap for our lukewarm era (rather than to be among those who are part of the problem). And it is not easy, after all. It is a fight, and a daily one at that. But the outcome of our faith will be blessed beyond imagination.
Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.
Hebrews 13:7 NASB
As to your question, I think you express these things very well. This is, after all, the dilemma of divine sovereignty and human free will existing in the same venue on the one hand, and the manner in which God resolves this (seeming) dilemma and also how He expresses such resolutions in His holy Word. He is just and righteous in all He does; He knew before He created the world every decision everyone would make. But we are not righteous far from it and we have to make our decisions and choices one step at a time, one day at a time. Human beings that we are, we also often change course, in big things and in small. God not only knows that, not only knew that, but programmed all of that into the Plan of God, a plan so perfect that it takes into perfect account every single free will moral decision and incorporates all of our actual choices into the final whole so that the result is also perfect. I think it would be very difficult to explain this in writing every time the issue comes up in scripture (and I'm not sure that I have expressed it so well in even this rather lengthy paragraph) which explains why scripture is written as it is written. Our job as pastor-teachers is to teach these truths in a way that does them complete justice and also brings those who have chosen to listen to us to as full an understanding as possible of all the underlying truths.
It heartens me greatly to watch your progress in these things as you begin to find your own unique "teaching voice", my friend. Thanks also of course for all your good and encouraging words.
Your friend forever in Jesus Christ the Lord.
Hello Dr Luginbill, I pray you are doing well.
I've been over Jeremiah 21 a few times and would like some insight from you. Especially regarding the LORDS anger and Zedekiah sending men to Jeremiah to inquire of GOD
Thanks as always
Thanks for your prayers!
Human beings under pressure are often willing to engage in all manner of religious ritual, but it is amazing how they often guard their hearts from believing the truth no matter how terrible things get. It is often said that "there are no atheists in foxholes", but it is also true, once the war is over (or the pressure is off, whatever form it may take), that human beings have a remarkable ability to forget about the past and quickly unlearn any positive lessons on this score they may have received. This is how the Lord constructed us, namely, giving us an ability to refuse the truth as well as to accept it, so that every decision to come to Him might be a genuine one, not coerced in any way. Even though "hard times" often do have a clarifying effect on our consciousness, once the trouble is over, only those who have truly learned and who are thereafter truly willing to humble themselves before the Lord so as to do things His way instead of their own way (specifically, turning to Him in faith) are saved (cf. Lk.15:11-32).
As to your question about anger, the Lord, being God, does not actually "get angry" in the human sense. This is what is known as an "anthropopathism" (see the link), that is, the attribution (under divine inspiration) of human emotions and characteristics to God in order to better communicate to finite human beings truth and information about Him in this case, His extreme displeasure with the hardhearted residents of Judea who had thrust Him and His truth behind their backs and were not willing to repent of their sin, their unbelief, or their lack of mercy even in these extreme circumstances. Consider: these statements about impending destruction and wrathful anger are actually loving and merciful. That is because they are calculated to go the extra mile to get the attention of the king and his people so that they might repent, believe, love mercy, and thus be delivered from the destruction which the justice of God otherwise demanded. The fact that they did not, merely backs up the impression we already have from the narrative that they are confirmed in their hardheartedness, and that no event or circumstance or experience would ever be able to turn them around not without taking away their free will.
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ the Righteous,
One final question: when people deny or doubt Jesus, are they rejecting him?
Believers are saved; unbelievers are not. What goes on in any individual person's heart is truly known only to the Lord. Clearly, when a believer professes faith in no uncertain terms or when an unbeliever emphatically rejects the Lord, we have a pretty good idea of where they stand spiritually. For everyone in a "gray area", and there are many such, we need to leave it to the Lord inasmuch as it can often be impossible for us to know with certainty merely by questionable and ambiguous statements people may make, whether or not they are truly born again or have irrevocably rejected the Lord.
Will god ever give up on even the most vile rejector?
Everyone is left in this life for a reason. And Jesus died for the sins of everyone, even every unbeliever, no matter how "vile" by whatever definition. Theoretically, as long as there is life, there is hope (Eccl.9:4; Rom.11:23); but it is true that some cross the line and by their own free will reject Christ so as to have their names blotted out of the book of life through their own choice.
Even the wicked are not beyond the grace of God, provided they are willing to come back to Him:
Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the LORD,
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.
Isaiah 55:7 NKJV
God doesn't give up on people; people give up on God.
I was wondering, was King Hezekiah's wicked son a product of the fact that he was given an extra 15 years to live? Was this God showing us why he may shorten some people's lives while prolonging others?
It is a very good and interesting observation, especially inasmuch as Manasseh was only twelve when he became king (so as you suggest he must have been born after the added years Hezekiah received). Of course, it is also true that Manasseh, though violently wicked, did repent and return to the Lord in his later years:
Now when he was in affliction, he implored the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God. [cf. et vv. 15-16]
2nd Chronicles 33:12-13 NKJV
Regarding 1 Peter 4:6, how we understand the judgment? Some of those who are dead become believers and "are judged in the flesh as men", and you wrote that judgment means that they are convinced by the Spirit that they are guilty, "spiritually dead", and in need of help, to the end that they may "become spiritually alive" as a result of responding to the "gospel preached" in saving faith in Jesus Christ.
I was wondering whether "judged in the flesh as men" could also mean persecution for the fact that they have become believers? So that they are dead, but come to life through faith and are persecuted in the world?
I don't think so. Here is my translation of the verse:
For it is for this [very] reason that the gospel has been preached to the [spiritually] dead as well [as to you], in order that they [too], after they have been convicted in the flesh according to [their] human conduct, might live by means of the Spirit according to God['s grace].
1st Peter 4:6
1) The context is one of unbelievers (vv.3-5) along with the judgment they are going to receive in eternity from the Lord; 2) this is part of a purpose clause, and while being persecuted often happens to believers it would strange to make it the purpose of the gospel; 3) the prepositional phrases kata anthropous and kata theon are deliberately parallel and suggest an opposition between the two elements = "although A, nevertheless B" (i.e., although convinced that in human terms they are lost, nevertheless they can be born again through faith in Christ), whereas the alternative interpretation would seem to lose the contrast; finally 4) krino seems the wrong verb to express the idea of wrongful persecution of believers, at least without a context of "justice gone bad". I grant you, it's a difficult passage. Here's a link to where I discuss the verse in more detail: "Unbelief and its Consequences"
I wanted to ask your view on the following interpretation of Matthew 12:32 (NASB):
Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.
Could the meaning of this passage be explained by not seeing Holy Spirit in Christ, as it was the case with Paul? What I mean is that Paul didn't purposefully blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, as He wasn't aware that our Lord was a true Messiah and that His teaching was of God. So if someone blasphemes the humanity of our Lord, there is still a chance for this person to be saved, but if someone blasphemes against His teaching and His ministry, this equals a blasphemy against the Spirit and is thus unforgivable. Let me know your thoughts on such a view.
I think the way to explain the case of someone who is a violent unbeliever (like Paul) who is later saved is that one has to persist in this attitude of rejecting the Spirit's testimony to be lost forever; that is, one has to continue to deny the Spirit's testimony until it is too late (i.e., until death) for the sin to be "unpardonable"; that is because it really is the rejection of Jesus Christ that is unforgivable, the gospel message to which the Spirit is giving testimony. As long as a person is alive, it is possible to change, to repent, to respond to the truth . . . so as to be saved. It is, it is true, very unusual for unbelievers who are "died in the wool" to change especially inasmuch as the vast majority of the world's population has always refused to come to God's mercy. But it does happen: it happened in Paul's case. That is why he was a "trophy of grace" (1Tim.1:13-16).
Hope your well and fighting the good fight of Faith. Wanted to know are the below verses talking of spiritual death or physical death:
James 1:14-16: 14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. 16 Do not err, my beloved brethren.
James 5: 19-20: 19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; 20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.
Romans 8: 12-14 12: Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
Romans 6: 16: 16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
Proverbs 21: 16: 16 The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.
Ezekiel 18: 4: 4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.
Luke 15:24: 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
Good to hear from you, my friend.
It's a great question. In biblical terms, there are actually three types or aspects of death: spiritual, physical and eternal (this is covered in BB 3B: Hamartiology under "The Three Aspects of Death"; see the link). In fact, the way the Bible phrases things, all of these three aspects of death are inter-related, because there would be no such thing as death without there first being sin. Our God is life, and the only reason for death is creature rebellion against Him. Spiritual death is what brought about physical death (the fall of Adam and Eve), and eternal death is the end state of mankind after physical death absent response to the divine solution to spiritual death. Additionally, there is a difference, theologically if not obvious in the language of scripture, between absolute spiritual death (no relationship with God) and temporary spiritual death (the believer out of fellowship with God on account of sin unconfessed). In the case of the former, we should also mention that the result of crashing headlong into sin may be apostasy (in which case the "death" which ensues would be absolute spiritual death) or it may be the "sin unto death" in instances where the believer will not relinquish either faith or bad behavior (in which case the death will be physical death; see the link: "apostasy and the sin unto death"). Since all of these things are very closely inter-related, and since the Bible generally stresses the connection between them whereas we are more often than not interested in the differences in order to understand the distinctions it can be difficult to disentangle these differences in any particular verse where death which is not clearly a literal physical death is mentioned. Indeed, when it is not a literal physical death we are speaking of exclusively, there many times when we are meant to understand that the statement about the "death" in question applies to more than one of our subcategories sometimes to all of them. There are clearly exceptions to this (as when the "literal" physical death of a person is clearly meant), but the principle is an important one to keep in mind even in instances where at first glance the type of death may otherwise seem clear. For example, Christ died for us spiritually in that He was judged and paid the penalty for all of the sins of the entire world while physically alive.
As to the specific passages:
1) James 1:14-16: This applies equally well as spiritual death temporary (believers) or permanent (apostasy) and of course also physical death in the case of the sin unto death.
2) James 5:19-20: While this does apply to unbelievers generally, the "among you" here restricts the actual interpretation to believers who are rescued from the absolute spiritual death of apostasy or the physical death of the sin unto death. Remember that "soul" (KJV) meas "life" and not "spirit". While this also could work for fellowship (application), the fact that the "life" is saved makes it a more serious matter interpretively speaking.
3) Romans 8:12-14: Again, the "you" makes the actual interpretation refer to believers (so that the death referred to is either apostasy or the sin unto death); as a general statement it is also true of unbelievers who have nothing to look forward to in a life devoid of a spiritual response to God but death (spiritual now, resulting in physical and ending in eternal death). The verse can also be applied to Christian fellowship, but, again, since it is put in such serious terms I would restrict that to an application rather than the direct interpretation of this passage.
4) Proverbs 21:16: This is a general statement (a proverb, after all), and can apply to mankind generally those who despise God's wisdom (the gospel) end up in hell; those who are already believers, may wind up in apostasy or the sin unto death. The phrase "will come rest in the congregation of the rephaiyim" (not just "dead" but "ghosts" or "shadows"; lit., "powerless ones" referring to those in Hades) is so stark as to rule out temporary loss of fellowship by a believer although since that is the starting point for these other disastrous results it is a good application to make: don't even think about straying from the path of wisdom.
5) Ezekiel 18:4: This is speaking primarily about physical death (specifically, the sin unto death). Ancient Israel was assumed to be God's people, corporately, so that even though it was never entirely the case (and sometimes far from the case) those addressed are assumed to be believers, even if wayward ones. In this context, straying from the Lord, evidenced by sin, results in the sin unto death. In terms of general application, it could also refer to apostasy.
6) Luke 15:24: This death is not physical (since the boy didn't physically die), and it is obviously also not eternal. Therefore "death" is being used metaphorically. While it is possible to apply it to recovery from apostasy, the more natural interpretation is of a believer getting out of fellowship (a long way out at that), never losing faith, and in the end returning via repentance and subsequent confession to the Lord. It also works by way of application at least for unbelievers since all belong to God who come back from the world to God through Jesus Christ so as to be born again.
Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
In your latest update, you said, ' I don't know of any off-hand, but that is not surprising. After all, I can only think of three individuals whom scripture represents as actually in hell: the rich man of Luke 12 (who is not named), and antichrist and his false prophet who are the only two deposited into the lake of fire without a last judgment: their crimes are so egregious that such is not necessary for we are in no doubt about their eternal fate.'
I know of one other: Korah. I am almost certain that his unique fate is the antitype of Enoch's translation into heaven.
It's a good observation. Scripture tells of his departure thence, but we are not shown him actually in torments. So I suppose it is possible that he went "into the grave" bodily, but where his spirit ended up depends on his actual status, whether believer or unbeliever. After all, it is not uncommon for believers to suffer the "sin unto death" in similar if somewhat less dramatic fashion. One thing is for sure: no one should aspire to end up like Korah and company; that sort of end is the result of rebelling against God and His truth, whether the rebel is a believer or an unbeliever.
Yours in Jesus our dear Lord,
It is mentioned that God hardened Pharaoh's heart to show his people Gods power. So how can Pharaoh be really responsible for his action if God himself was setting him up?
As Paul says,
For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth." Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?" But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, "Why have you made me like this?" Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
Romans 9:17-24 NKJV
That is to say, it's not really fair for people to complain to God that He gave them free will, the image of God, or, in the case of Pharaoh, that He allowed that free will extra reign in opposing His sovereign decrees. What God did was to allow Pharaoh to act in an arrogant way towards Him to a degree that Pharaoh never would have been able to do absent God's special empowerment: God allowed Pharaoh's true heart to come out in spite of unprecedented divine opposition that would have restrained any other human being (as it did all of his courtiers) so the situation is absolutely unique (but the resistance to God was entirely of Pharaoh's will). I have plenty about his in the short series (adapted from my M.A.B.S series), "Hardening Pharaoh's Heart" (see the link).
In Bible Basics Part 4b: Soteriology, you write:
Imprinted by God at birth on the heart of every human being is a threefold ultimate concern that dominates all serious thinking about this life, whether or not these issues are eventually faced by the person in question or are later willfully erased. Through observation of the world as God has made it, all human beings at some point (usually at an early age) become aware of their own mortality (death), their own imperfection (sin), and the existence of a perfect God in comparison to whom their own imperfection is strikingly clear (Law).
I can understand how the first two of these concerns (sin and death) are hard to refute even by an unbeliever who has rejected and hardened their heart against the truth of the gospel. I also understand that through natural revelation, the unbeliever has no excuse to refute the existence of an almighty God (Psalm 19:1-4). What I am struggling to understand, however, is with regards to the third concern you mention Law. By Law, do you mean what is traditionally known as the Torah/Pentateuch? More specifically, are you referring to the commandments that bring one to the realisation of how far we are from the standard of perfection God requires, and consequently the power of sin? In either case, could not the unbeliever argue' that they have never read or come across any of these books? This would obviously be a petty excuse, for in His foreknowledge, God in eternity past made us who we choose to be, and who we choose to be is who God made us; His foreordination does not restrict our free-will but rather it permits/allows for genuine choice as you explained so excellently throughout Soteriology. If this was what you meant by Law, is this not part of one becoming aware of their own imperfection, sin?
Based on the above assumptions, it seems to me therefore that this concern imprinted on the human heart is an amalgamation of natural revelation (existence of a perfect God) and Law (our own imperfection). If I have misunderstood this, would you kindly be able to elaborate further on the last point of this three-fold concern, with specific reference to how one is able to make the comparison between their own imperfection and the existence of a perfect God?
I think you have understood things very well. I capitalized Law in the parenthesis because Paul describes the Law as what empowers sin but which he means 1) that if something is forbidden it has all that much more power in tempting our sin natures (cf. Rom.7:6-8), and 2) that the Law is embodied in all of its core principles in the hearts of men as God has made us (Eccl.3:11), so that obeying or violating the principles of truth our consciences naturally understand is a common human experience (Rom.2:14-16). But beyond all argument, scripture teaches that everyone is naturally acquainted with the character of God a perfect standard from which we all fall short:
(18) God's wrath is about to be revealed from heaven upon all ungodliness and unrighteousness on men who suppress the truth [in their hearts about God] in their unrighteousness. (19) For that which can be known about God [from everyday experience] is obvious to them, because God has made it obvious. (20) His nature, though invisible, is nevertheless plainly apparent, and has been since His foundation of the world, for it may be clearly inferred from this creation of His [this is true of] both His eternal power and His divinity so that they are without any excuse: (21) they knew about God, but they neither honored Him as God nor thanked Him. Instead, they gave themselves over to [the] vanity [of this world] in their speculations, and their senseless hearts were filled with darkness.
One last question on this if I may to clarify that I have understood it correctly: The Law is written on the hearts of all men, both believers and unbelievers (Rom.2:14-16). Thus, we all become aware of the standard of perfection and righteousness. The Law empowers' sin within us, making us fully cognisant of our own imperfection. (Rom.7:6-8). Aside from the Gospel, God's existence - His character and His nature are made obvious for everyone to see through how He made creation (Rom.1:18-21; Ps.19:1-4).
In your statement ...and the existence of a perfect God in comparison to whom their own imperfection is strikingly clear (Law)' I am still trying to comprehend the connection you make between the Law imprinted on the human heart and God's plainly apparent divine and infinite nature. I understand that God is perfect (both His character and nature), we are imperfect (as we all sin) and we shall all eventually die as a consequence of sin and ultimately come face to face with a holy and righteous God, having nothing to offer in exchange for our guilt. As you write in Soteriology - the unbeliever is therefore faced with the tripartite problem of undeniable sin, inevitable death, and ultimate condemnation.
Would you be able to elaborate on how you arrived at making the comparison between the Law and the existence of a perfect God, and how the unbeliever would come to the conclusion that as a consequence of this undeniable sin and inevitable death, they will ultimately come face to face and be judged by a perfect, holy and righteous God?
In Jesus, who is the very embodiment of the Word of God,
As to "making the comparison between the Law and the existence of a perfect God", I was merely paraphrasing what Paul has to say and directing the reader's attention back to the passage quoted:
(56) Now the stinger of death (after which all face God) is the sin [nature] (through which we realize our imperfection), and the power of sin is the Law (in which we see the perfect standard of God which we cannot hope to match). (57) But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
1st Corinthians 15:56-57
It is true that not all have "the Law", but that is why I have included the Romans 2:14-16 reference, namely, to indicate that there is an understanding in every human heart of what is right and wrong even in the absence of the written code, and that God is the One who has placed it there (conscience; see the link for details). Since we all know it when we do wrong, we also have the idea of what is right (Eccl.3:11) and, more to the point, we all know that the God whom we realize made the universe is the One who is RIGHT-eous (one of His key "invisible attributes" seen from His creation: Rom.1:20), the One before whom we will have no excuse (absent a Solution which He provides). This is why in Romans chapter one Paul can say that unbelievers on the one hand have no excuse, and also that in going down the road of degeneracy they have deliberately and willfully "exchanged the truth of God for the lie" (Rom.1:25 NKJV). The bottom line is that all these scriptures, taken together, tell us that every human being knows that God is just and that we are not, so that we will face only condemnation after the death we fear unless we first make our peace with Him.
As to "how the unbeliever would come to the conclusion that as a consequence of this undeniable sin and inevitable death, they will ultimately come face to face and be judged by a perfect, holy and righteous God", I think the above probably addresses this well enough. We all know that we die. We all know that God exists. We all know that we are unrighteous. We all know that He is righteous. The resultant necessary judgment after death which all therefore anticipate, consciously or not (Heb.9:27), can have only one expectation:
. . . [in the case of unbelievers and apostates] there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.
Hebrews 10:26b-27 NKJV
Glory to the One who bought us from our sins that we might have peace in total confidence that we have escaped the flames through the sacrifice of the One who face them on our behalf, our dear Savior, Jesus Christ!
Hi again Bob,
I would like to ask you your thoughts on these questions. Last week we went to a talk about Muslims. The speaker was born into Islam and turned Christian 10 yrs. ago, his family is still Islamic, he was taking about the customs and what Muslims believe, my question is when someone asked him if Muslims believe in the same God as we do, he said yes and no but did not go any further, it seemed like he was avoiding the question. His answer has really been bothering us since he said this. I have always felt that if you do not believe in Jesus Christ as The Lord and Saviour how could they believe in the same God as we do? I also would like to ask about something else, we know that Jesus told us about the tribulations that will happen to the world, how do we pray when we know this has to happen before our precious Lord comes back? I know this is a loaded question but I'm really stuck, do I pray for peace for the world or for the people that are being used by satan for his evil work, or for Jesus to come soon, continue strength in faith for everyone, I just don't know how to pray over this, I know there is a lot of things to pray for, I know power is in prayer, it just seems so overwhelming.
Thank you again for your thoughts on these matters.
In Our Lord Jesus.
On Islam, we know that there is only "one God", and we know very well who that God is. However, with us believers, it's not just a matter of knowledge but a matter of faith: we have believed in Him, in His Son our Lord Jesus, for eternal salvation. As Paul says, "knowledge puffs up but love edifies" (1Cor.8:1). Even "the demons" recognize that there is only "one God" . . . and that makes them tremble (Jas.2:19). In fact, every human being who attains mental maturity recognizes the existence of a Creator through natural revelation, the imprint that God has placed on the universe and everything therein to proclaim His existence, His power, and His essentially goodness. What individual human beings do with this knowledge after the fact is a matter of free will choice. That is to say, no one is "not saved" because they had the "bad luck" to be born in a Muslim environment; and no who embraces a false religion does so ultimately out of sheer ignorance: truth has to be rejected for any lie to be accepted (Rom.1:25). There is much to say about this subject (and I will give you the links below), but I think your friend had it about right when he said "yes and no". I would fill in by saying "yes, like everyone else who has ever lived they once recognized the existence of a Creator" and "no", the substitute god they now worship is no more God than Zeus or whomever: if they were really desiring to worship God, then they would be motivated to turn to His Son (Jn.14:6). For those who grow up with that culture and know it is wrong, then the "God" they knew from a young age may lead them as in the case of your friend to the actual truth:
(24) The God who made the world and everything in it, He is Lord of heaven and earth. He does not dwell in man-made temples, (25) nor is he waited on by human hands, as if He needed anything from us. He is the One who gives us all life and breath and everything else. (26) From one man he created all the nations of mankind that they should come to inhabit the whole face of the earth. He fixed and determined the specific times and extent of their habitations, (27) to the end that they should seek out this God, that they might go in search of Him and so might find Him for His is not far off from any one of us.
Here are some links on this:
*Natural Revelation and Accountability (in BB 4B)
Natural and Special Revelation: Peter #11
More on Natural Revelation
Even more on Natural Revelation
And more . . .
And even more . . .
Unbelief and its Consequences
As to what to pray for, I know that God honors the true motives behind our prayers even if we are not sure what or how to pray. As for as the world situation is concerned, I think a policy of praying for Christians under threat of persecution is quite legitimate. On the bigger picture, I think we can be confident in the fact that the Lord is working history out for good for all who love Him and for all who will love Him. As I often tell Christians, if you want to "help" the world or your country or your community, the best way of doing that is to be "salt", that is, to grow and progress spiritually so that God will honor your community and nation et al. because of you. The events which are soon going to unfold will do so regardless of anything the most powerful people in the world can do let alone the "not many mighty" who compose the true Church. But while we cannot manipulate the world (no one can; all control is an illusion and all security a myth), we are in fact absolutely secure in Jesus Christ and have the opportunity as faith-warriors for Him to make a difference for His Church every day and that is where we really ought to put our spiritual efforts. As I often say, the Christian life boils down to growing spiritually, passing the tests the Lord gives us so as to glorify Him, and helping others do likewise through the ministries He gives us, once we have become mature enough to embrace them fully. That is the only way to please our dear Lord Jesus, and the road to eternal rewards.
In hopes of your continued growth and impact for the Lord through His truth.
I am currently working on proving the existence of the Most High using the physical world. I understand that the Most High is invisible and not subject or bound to our physical laws, time, and limitations. I do believe we can bridge the gap with the Holy Spirit's wisdom and understanding of the Word along with my worldly understanding of chemistry, geology and physics. I'm mainly focusing on our physical makeup and natural laws. I don't believe that just because our Lord and Savior isn't subject to our physical limitations, that He still can't be seen and understood through them. The Word says the just shall live by faith, but I don't remember it saying walk through life blind-folded. I love the Lord with all my being and I will try to defend the Word until I die. If I fail and can't bridge the gap, then at least my understanding of the Most High and His Word will be stronger. Do you have any or materials, books, or information you can bless me with to help me? V/r in the Lord.
I admire your aspiration. What you are trying to do is to exploit what in theology is called "natural revelation", that is, the point that God has revealed Himself, albeit indirectly, in everything He has made, be it mankind, or different aspects of His material creation (Kant spent a lot of time on this, and you will also find that in most systematic theologies a good deal of ink is spilled over the "anthropological" and "teleological" arguments, e.g., and I dare say that in all of deep things of science and mathematics the patterns present are reflective of the Creator).
Simply put, any ten year old in an aboriginal culture can look at him/herself, look at the night sky, look at the flora and fauna around him/her, and see quite clearly that "there is a God"; more than that, the entire way God has constructed the universe tells every human being much about Himself, specifically, that He is not only all powerful and all present, but is also completely good and completely righteous. Knowing these things and knowing also by simple observation that we are not good (certainly not good enough to face this perfect God) and will in short order die ought to be powerful enough motivation to seek Him.
No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for themthe ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enoughso that they should live on forever and not see decay. For all can see that the wise die, that the foolish and the senseless also perish, leaving their wealth to others.
Psalm 49:7-10 NIV
And for everyone who has ever truly sought Him regardless or race or place or space, God has provided the truth about salvation and has put everyone where He has put them precisely to maximize the chances of salvation (Acts 17:24-27). The amazing thing to me, personally, is that in spite of everything God has done to make all the essential truths necessary to motivate us to want the gospel, so few human beings in the history of the world have had any use for Him at all. That tells us everything we need to know about the hardness and arrogance of the human heart, about the "madness" within us (Eccl.9:3), the megalomania which characterizes human existence:
Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth.
Psalm 73:9 NIV
Faced with an eternity with Him or hell, most people prefer hell. Why? Because they are not interested in doing things God's way, not interested in finding out more about Him, not interested in bending their will to His in the slightest way, not even when it is so easy (for us) to accept the work of Christ for life eternal. It is for this reason that natural revelation has been made by God "plausibly deniable", that is, to allow the choice every human being makes on the most important of all questions in this life to be unforced and uncoerced. People who accept evolution are not stupid nor are they truly deceived; it's just a "nice" answer for those who are uncomfortable with what natural revelation tells us all so clearly, and what even these deniers knew very well in there heart of hearts when they were younger: there is a God, an omnipotent and perfect One, before whom all shall stand.
By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear.
Isaiah 45:3 NIV
Here are a few places at Ichthys where these issues are discussed:
Proving the existence of God
Natural and Special Revelation: Peter #11
More on Natural Revelation
Even more on Natural Revelation
And more . . .
And even more . . .
Unbelief and its Consequences
*Natural Revelation and Accountability (in BB 4B)
Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Thank you. I've never heard of "Natural Revelation." I'm speechless. It seems like every idea I would like to write about has already written. I want to share the gospel but I'm officially at a standstill again. V/r
Your idea would indeed be a good way to share. And if you have never heard of it, I can guarantee that there are plenty of unbelievers out there who never heard of it either. Likely they'll never read Kant either.
The Lord knows your heart and as you grow will lead you into just the right ministry for you. So keep on growing that is the best preparation for any ministry and when you are ready you will be lead by the Lord into just the right ministry which He has already prepared for you.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Do you think the Pharisees finally once and for all rejected our sinless Christ?
This is about individual decisions. We can't with confidence know what people think or believe in their heart of hearts merely from their affiliations. Some of the Pharisees did accept Jesus and are in heaven today (Mk.15:43; Jn.7:48-52 compared with Jn.19:39; Jn.12:42; Acts 6:7; 15:5); many more doubtless did not and are in hell today. As mentioned, being "blotted out" of the book of life is something that apparently happens at the point of physical death for all who either did not or would not believe in Christ. Technically speaking, where there is life there is hope of repentance, but for those who have hardened their hearts to the point of never being willing to repent of their unbelief, such change is not likely (at least). That is how I would wish to understand the mark of the beast not a blotting out (technically) before the fact: Revelation 13:8 is anticipating that anyone who takes this horrific step of accepting the mark in spite of the dire warnings of scripture and the worldwide proclamation against it will stand firm in that rejection of Christ (and God knows all things). But we also have to remember that foreknowledge does not contradict free will.
Some agree that the rejection of Christ our Lord is unpardonable, but they said the permanent hardness of heart and crossing the line with no change of mind is someone who openly speaks bad about the Holy Spirit. What is your opinion on this theory?
As said many times, I would counsel you not to listen these "some". The way you have phrased this in response to "some" is about four steps removed from the things scripture actually says. When theology starts to debate the theology with little or no regard to the Bible, only confusion can result. A good indication of this is when straightforwardness and simplicity are left far behind.
"Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!"
Here is a link on this: "Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit"
Your brother in Christ by grace through faith.
Why did the Pharisees reject Jesus. I mean they were the most religiously intelligent of the people. And did Jesus even come for them, and was He still willing to save them despite what they had said in attributing His healing to working with Satan?
It's not a matter of learning or intelligence. It's a matter of heart-decision.
Where do you want to spend eternity?
The Pharisees, like all unbelievers, were only too happy to trade an eternity with the Lord for a few years of doing what they wanted to do on this earth, not subject to the Will of God (only subject to a pretend god of their own making).
Unbelievers are not willing to accept the Substitute for their sins because it means bending their will to God's will in order to accept His Gift. That seems insane to believers (and it is), but then believing in the goodness and faithfulness of God seems insane to unbelievers because they have hardened their hearts against the truth and have come to believe lies in place of truth (Rom.1:25).
In Jesus Christ who is the only way of salvation.
I just found your website and very happy I have. I am currently trying to find help answering the questions of a young man I meet with once a week for a bible study type group. This one young man currently studying theology. He is a intelligent young man. He used to claim to be a Christian. I just don't know. I on the other hand just became a Christian 4 years ago. I lived a life running from God but all that changed. I dove into the Bible, I started studying apologetics I just can't get enough of God's word. However after many years of living for myself I have burned some of my intellect. We have been meeting for almost 2yrs now and I have seen this fellow go from a hard core Calvinist to just completely liberal all things are relative we can't know the truth type person. He began reading Ehrman, Schweitzer and many others. We have debated some of these things below. Included pastors from our church and others to talk through some of this. What it seems to all boil down to is that he no longer accept the Bible as God's word. It's at a point that I am just not smart enough to give him answers anymore. I studied this I've provided information and resources. I am just reaching out hoping you can maybe shed some light on these issues. Or point me in a direction to find something to help him. I have been praying about this and providing documentation now I am just praying. Please see the email that follows. I asked him to sum up for me how he got to where he is. Thanks in advance for any help or resources you can provide. I will continue to search your website for resources as time allows.
Good to make your acquaintance. I have seen/heard this sort of thing many times before. The list of questions seems not so much a search for the truth but a personal justification for rejecting the truth. Why do people reject the truth? Because they wish to go their own way and "do their own thing" quite apart from any input from God. That was true of Satan, and that is true of every unbeliever, even the "really nice ones". However, it is also true that on occasions the Lord allows those who are still his but slipping away to send out what they think are justifications for their own rebellion (the thinking being, "if I can't be proved wrong, then I can't be in any eternal danger" Satan was wrong about this too), but which are really "SOS's". In the spirit of the latter, I will give a very short response to each (and am willing to respond to responses):
I like to explain how I got to the position as a bunch of stepping stones. ie once I believe this then that leads to the next stone. 1. I was told Mt, Mk, Lk, and Jn wrote the gospels. We have no clue who wrote them. Irenaeus mentions the authors in 180ad; 100 years later. The next mention is Eusebius in the 4th century. We don't know they were eye witnesses.
1) The gospels were written by the men to whom they are attributed. We are more sure of the attribution of these texts than to most of the documents which have survived from the ancient world. Parts of the gospel of John, for example, have been found dating to the first century, only a few decades after John wrote it. The fact that there are many witnesses from antiquity is a actually a large point in their favor, not evidence against them. More to the point, true Christianity is supernatural. The Holy Spirit wrote these texts and He empowers their reception by every believer who reads them with an open heart. Can anyone who is a believer read these books and have any doubt that they are the very words of God?
2. The early church fathers chose canonicity on 3 things. Apostolic, Widespread usage, and orthodoxy. Couple of things here.. the third obviously means there were different sects ie the essenes and Marcionites were apparently some early ones. The fact that we all agree we have no idea who wrote Hebrews obviously violates the first rule of canonicity.
2) The Holy Spirit formed the canon; men who came later merely recognized what the Spirit has done. The test of scripture comes from reading it. Read the apostolic fathers, those closest in time to scripture, and you will see instantly that the Bible is filled with a supernatural power not evident even in the chronologically close and thematically consonant works of these early believers. Marcion like most heretics didn't deny the scriptures; he merely wanted to bend them to his particular uses (so he threw out many parts of the Bible . . .but what was left was still scripture). Other cults add to the Bible (the Mormons, e.g.). But the fact that the Bible retains its dominance even under extreme attack witnesses to the inherent spiritual power within it. Hebrews was written by Paul but even if it were anonymous it would only mean that disputant has chosen some criteria that fit his purpose in order to discredit the scriptures through those external criteria. Anything one may truly say about the canon is merely an observation about the actual Bible, not a litmus test for evaluating it.
3. The bible has contradictions. take it for what it's worth
3) Name a single one. In fact, whenever a "contradiction" is found, it is always a case instead of ignorance about some fact or doctrine or linguistic detail on the part of the person who has found it.
4. the BIG one. Jesus did not fulfill ANY of the Messianic prophecies. Any, not one. Now there is no "rule" against him coming back (the second coming) and fulfilling them, but as of now it doesn't even make sense.
4) ? Have you read Isaiah chapter 53? Jesus fulfills the cross and the crown; His generation wanted only the latter (this is what you are referring to), whereas the crown is impossible without the cross. Even so, what about this: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet" (Ps.110:1 NKJV)?
5. the birth narratives are completely against one another and even tell you what they were trying to do. "to fulfill prophecy" too bad they disagree how it happened.
5) They mesh perfectly; they merely emphasize different things. If you were looking for answers instead seeking "contradictions" you would possibly have made some headway. Here is a link to where these narratives are reconciled: "The Events Surrounding the Birth of Christ". If you would have a little faith, even the size of a mustard seed, you would come to understand that there is more for you to learn before dismissing everything so flippantly.
6. Paul's vision is the MAIN thing in "Christ"ianity. He didn't even know Jesus
6) Paul did see Jesus face to face, and came "to know" Him better than any of the others . . . through the truth of His Word. It's actually a good teaching point: many people saw and heard Jesus, but they never even believed in Him; others did follow, but never really got over the fact of seeing Him personally so as to learn everything about the truths He taught them; it took the humility of the twelfth apostle to drink deeply enough of the truths of the Word in the Spirit to give us the wonders of the Pauline epistles and insight into doctrine they contain.
7. Not that this reaaaallly matters, but most scholars don't agree on six of Paul's letters for linguistic issues.
7) Most? I don't know of a believer who would accept your thesis. I have seen some of the "work" done to discredit the pastorals, and it is not up to scholarly snuff and not many have followed (not even the secular, unbelieving scholarly community). The only ones who seem to accept this thesis are cult members who would like to throw Paul out of the canon (and some hyper-Messianics as well).
8. In John the author admits his agenda. John 20:31 these are written so that you might believe Jesus is the Messiah.
8) That's a bad thing? Not if you believe the truth of our Lord's words:
"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
John 3:18 NKJV
9. Christianity was mostly a Greek movement thanks to Paul. Some jews believed him to be an anti-christ. these are some off the top of my head.
9) Christianity, true Christianity, is and always has been a relationship with Jesus Christ: being born again through faith in the person and work of the One who came into this world to bear all of our sins. Those who believe in Him have life eternal -- whether "Greek or Jew . . . circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman . . . Christ is all, and in all" (Col.3:11 NASB). He is the Messiah, the Son of God, the "one way" to life eternal (Jn.14:6). And in the end, there will be representatives "from every tribe and tongue and people and nation" in the family of God, saved forever through the blood of Jesus Christ (Rev.5:9 NASB). The only really important question is, "will you be in that number too?" The alternative does not bear contemplation.
In hopes that this will be of some small help in your noble effort in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Dear Brother Bob,
I am a Chinese believer. I am always amazed at how our Lord has imparted you with such gift and knowledge concerning Him and His Kingdom. There is a seeker recently came with near sixty-five questions in your email post (last Q and A in the post). I felt he needs more specific answers and I took the liberty to look for some Christian websites to his questions (see blow). I wished I have more skill in English to answer his questions in writing but this is what I'm given for now. I have difficulty finding answer to his question # 65. Hope that you can relate the websites to this friend or connect him to me. May mercy, peace and love be multiplied to you from our Lord Jesus.
1.Which is the true religion?
2.Who is God?
3.What is the true name of God(s)?
4.Why we cannot see God?
5.Which is the correct religion to go heaven?
6.Does God have any partner?
God Himself is three in one
7.Does God have a wife and children?
Jesus's bride is the church, God's children are His believers.
8.Does God eat, sleep and die?
God rested. Jesus eat, sleep, and died, but resurrected.
9.Who created us?
Bible: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
10.Which God control the universe?
11.Who was the first prophet?
12.Who was the last prophet?
13.Did God send all his prophets USA or Europe or Australia?
14.How many prophets did God send to mankind?
15.Who made some people beggar and some people rich?
16.Which Angel(s) spoke to Maryam and Jesus?
17.Is Jesus the Son of God?
18.Is Jesus a prophet?
19.Is Jesus messenger of God?
20.Was Jesus a Christian?
Jesus is Christ. His believers are Christians.
21.Did Jesus bring Christian religion?
Jesus brings salvation and peace with God, not Christian religion.
22.Did God instruct Jesus to build Church?
23.How Bible was sent to earth?
24.Are there any mistakes in Bible?
25.Is Holy Bible for Christian?
Holy Bible is for all mankind.
26.Is the current Holy Bible word of God?
27.Why there are some many versions?
28.Is Holy Bible for the mankind?
Yes. Those who have ears let him hear.
29.Which is the correct version?
30.Was Bible written after the death of Jesus ?
31.What will be the tasks of Jesus after his second arrival to earth?
32.How is the appearance of Jesus?
33.Did Jesus marry?
34.Where is Jesus now?
35.Where is the grave of Jesus?
36.Whom we should worship?
37.How to worship God?
38.Are we allowed to wear Cross?
39.What are the benefits of wearing Cross?
40.Will God help me go to heaven if I wear the Cross?
Not at all.
41.When God will meet us?
42.What is Heaven?
43.How many Heavens are there?
44.Where is Heaven?
45.Anybody guarding the Heaven?
46.Who is there in Heaven?
47.How to go to Heaven?
48.What is Hell?
49.How many Hells are there?
50.Where is Hell?
51.Who is there in Hell?
52.What will happen after death?
53.Is there any punishment in grave?
54.Can a female wear man dress?
55.What are the prohibited activities?
56.What are the forbidden foods?
57.Are we allowed to drink Alcohol?
58.Are we allowed to eat pork?
59.Are we allowed to perform adultery?
60.Are we allowed to gamble?
61.Are we allowed to watch pornography?
62.Are we allowed to accept interest from investment?
63.Did Abrahim and his son build the first mosque on earth?
I don't know.
64.Did Holy Bible says follow the instruction of Muhammad (PBUH)?
Very good to make your acquaintance. Thank you for your "labor of love". I have forwarded the list to the person who sent me the questions. I will most definitely let you know if and when he responds.
The main reason why I gave him the answer I did was that in my experience of dealing with these matters and similar emails for many year now my sense was that this person was not only not a Christian, and was not only not really interested in the detailed answers, but was really only trying to demonstrate and support his own Muslim faith. That was why I tried to challenge him in the way that I did to consider that there is only one way to life eternal through Jesus Christ. I know that the Holy Spirit is a better evangelist in these matters than any of us will ever be, and that if we give the gospel correctly, He can break through to anyone who is truly willing to listen.
Still, what you have done here is noble and worthy of praise, and I hope that this effort on the part of a genuine believer in Christ like yourself will make an impression where my approach may very well have failed.
As to question #55, in my opinion it is just as well that you left it blank. His English is a bit odd, but I think what he means here is "tell me what sort of things Christianity prohibits?" Not only would that require a long and involved answer, answering it directly I fear would obfuscate the most important thing that unbelievers need to hear about sin: that Jesus Christ died for them all, and that this is why God is just to give us life eternal if we accept our Lord's sacrifice.
Thank you again for your good heart proven by your act of love.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Dear Brother Bob,
Thank you for taking your precious time to respond, and your kind words to encourage me. I have an introvert son that have tons of questions regarding truth that I am not knowledgeable enough to answer. Therefore I just felt for the Muslim seeker. I totally trust your wise experience with such people, but I can't help but want to give it a shot in case he is like my son, who has a lot of open doors to spiritual things but was not able to obtain answers. I pray that our Lord and His power word will penetrate his spirit. My daughter is attending UC Irvine in two weeks as a freshman. I pray that she will be connected to a real Christian group there. If you know of any good fellowship will you kindly let me know please?
May the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way.
I do understand, and I very much appreciate your heartfelt concern for this individual. I am sure that the Lord will honor your prayers and your efforts on behalf of His Church.
It has been many years since I last visited UC Irvine, but I do know that there are still a number of "registered organizations" on campus which focus on ministering to Chinese Christians (or Asians more generally). One of them, the Chinese Christian Campus Fellowship, I had the pleasure of speaking to while I was still a graduate student there at the time they were serious Christians who also enjoyed wholesome fellowship together. I'm not in touch with any of these groups today (I graduated with my Ph.D. from there in 1990), so I cannot vouch for them, but there is indeed a large Chinese Christian contingent at UCI and they have always been pretty well organized into a number of identifiable Christian groups (so it may be possible for your daughter to find something that suits her). Another possible group there: Asian American Christian Fellowship. These are both recognized groups, so they are on-file with the university and have contact information et al. readily available. If you and your daughter have not already attended orientation, that is often a good time to get lists or contact info for all manner of organizations.
Best wishes for your daughter's happy and successful attendance at UCI!
In Christ our Lord,
Much has been written concerning the death of Jesus. Some allege that Jesus sacrificed himself, thus to atone for our sins; past present and future I assume. I even read of Jesus being a blood sacrifice. A blood sacrifice? In some ancient mind the thought was perhaps pondered that a man rather than an animal would solve the vastly expensive and enormously wasteful slaughter of animals by a single stroke. Let a rabbi carry the sins of a people to his death. Let him be the final scapegoat to ease the sinners mind. Perhaps that was the motive behind the arrest and execution of Jesus. However if Jesus went voluntarily to his death. If he sacrificed himself for others then he committed suicide-albeit by proxy. Others write that God gave his only begotten son to be sacrificed for the sake of humanity. But if we accept this latter scenario then we must accept also that God was complicit in the murder of his own son. Filicide is the act of a parent killing his own child. It is a criminal act. Perhaps where God is concerned the killing his own son was for the common good. Now I can understand a stupid primitive mind might entertain such a macabre thought. But a God? A super intelligent deity? I do not think the logical mind can accept such a thing. When an ancient peoples sought to cast away their sins onto the back of an innocent animal they abandoned responsibility for their own sins. In effect they cruelly punished an innocent creature for their own crimes. Let someone else or something take the blame. Cowards. And Jesus by his so-called sacrifice did exactly the same thing-only in reverse. A stupid and immoral act. Now we can sin as much as we like for Jesus has absolved us of all our sins. Utter nonsense and stupidity. But let us take a final look at the death of Jesus. He died for us. But he did not die did he? Jesus cannot die. He is immortal. Therefore the much publicized death was no more than play acting. It was all a charade. And those responsible committed a crime of fiction that has clouded men's minds for over two thousand years. Shame
You don't seem to have a question (this ministry answers Bible questions for believers).
If you really do want to know more about this subject, please consult the following link:
The Spiritual death of Christ
I don't follow your logic here (e.g., being forgiven is not an inducement to sin anymore than not being forgiven is a restraint on sinning; cf. Rom.6:1ff.). Jesus is God, but He also had to become human to bear our sins, the most blessed thing of all which He did in fact do unless you reject the authority of scripture entirely (in which case, how would you even know that there was a "Jesus"?).
As I say, these matters are all discussed at the link above. I would urge you to have a look at it, and to write me back with questions (you might also find BB 4B: Soteriology helpful).
Whatever one thinks of the mechanics of salvation, the object of faith is clear: our Lord Jesus and His death for us on the cross. Only by accepting the Father's gift of the Son, His perfect person and His perfect work in bearing our sins, can anyone be saved.
Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.
In the Name of the One who died for us, our dear Savior Jesus Christ.
Thanks for your reply and time. methinks I became carried way in my explorations into alternative explanations- scripture-wise. Let me therefore focus your attention onto the spoken word of the disciple Matthew. Matthew said that a prophecy was fulfilled respecting a virgin birth when Jesus was born of Mary. But Matthew falsely claimed 'a prophecy fulfilled' when Jesus was born of Mary. The why of it assumes the utmost importance. For such falsehoods only serve to undermine trust in the Gospels. What was once taken on trust as a child fails the test when scrutinised by the eyes of a more mature mind. The Church has obviously been aware of the falsehood of Matthew for centuries, so why did they allow this deception to continue? Why has the 'prophecy' passage, this deception never been removed from the Gospel of Matthew?
There is nothing false about Matthew this is the Word of God.
The prophecy was accurate in every way. For more, please see the link:
and 'almah in Matthew's prophecy.
Yours in our dear Savior Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Thank you for your prompt reply. As regards Matthew's claim that a prophecy foretold the birth of Jesus by a virgin we know this to be false. Conveniently it seems Matthew chose not to identify the prophet. That in itself raises suspicion as to the veracity of his claim. Many early potential converts to the emergence of Christianity may I suspect have been simple, unlearned, folk who relied on others to read to them and to preach to them. We however can reach back into time and discover and read for ourselves the truth of the prophecy regarding a so-called virgin birth. The prophet alluded to by Matthew was one called Isaiah. 7oo years before the birth of Jesus, Jerusalem was under threat from Syria. The king of Jerusalem at that time was a man called Ahaz. To him the prophet proclaimed the birth of a boy-shortly to be born-who would be called Immanuel. The boy would be born of a maiden or young woman. The strange idea of a virgin birth came about as the result of a mistranslation of the word Almah which means not a virgin but a young woman. In Latin the word virgo means no more than unmarried. The prophecy and birth of Immanuel took related to the time of King Ahaz. It had no bearing on the birth of Jesus which would come seven hundred years later. Even if the birth of Immanuel was in anyway considered miraculous it would still not pertain to the birth of Jesus some 700 years later.
It would be stupid to think that the prophet Isaiah would proclaim the birth of a boy 700 years into the future -for what would the use of such a prophecy be to King Ahaz? Would it comfort him. Would it aid him in his time of troubles? So why does the gospel of Matthew include the prophecy of Isaiah in its text when it has no place in the birth of Jesus. Why is the gospel of Matthew still published in its current form? The inclusion is out of place and context.
So how is it that religious students, scholars, church leaders, preachers and the like, over the centuries, have never sought to delete this spurious insertion. Why is this misconception about the prophecy of the virgin birth of Jesus still being preached? That Is My Question.
The Bible says it happened this way. You are certainly free to disregard scripture (most people do). But if you claim to have some basis for your Christian beliefs, what would that be if not the Bible? Unless God is talking to your personally, scripture would seem to be the only source of truth presently available (beyond, of course, natural revelation). There are plenty of things that people who rely on empiricism "know" which are not in fact true. God is much greater than anything we can perceive through our inherently subjective senses.
In Jesus our dear Lord.
Thank you for your reply. Its fine to have a belief, and if it is a religious one that is fine to. If of course the book on which you rely can support such belief. If God is greater than anything we can perceive then there must be evidence shown that can support this assumption. But unfortunately this is not the case at all. Magical thinking is fine for Old Testament prophets, or for children and entertainment purposes. But it must not be allowed to enter into or distort the world of reality. Two examples of magical thinking or propaganda are found Number 22:28. Here we find Balaam's Talking Donkey. A donkey that talks? In John 14: 13 we find Jesus saying "You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it! I tried asking Jesus, but nothing happened. However I think the greatest magical trick of all was getting people to believe that Jesus died for our sins. Your thoughts
Plenty of people have trouble believing one thing or another in scripture. But consider, please, that the Lord who made the universe in the blink of an eye can easily make a donkey talk. It's a question of faith.
By faith we understand that the ages have been constructed by the Word of God, so that what we see (i.e., the material world) has not come into being from the things we now see.
You don't like "magic" and neither do I. Treating the Lord like a magic amulet or a slot-machine obviously doesn't work. He knows the motives behind our prayers and just the right way to answer them, more often than not, not in the way we suppose He will or should. Consider that you are in dialogue with a ministry capable of answering most of your questions on these matters if you are interested in hearing the true answers. If, on the other hand, your prayer really meant something like, "Oh Lord, please tell me the truth as long as it is an easy process to hear it and as long as what you tell me will be what I wanted to hear in the first place", well, then you already have had your answer.
"But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner."
Hebrews 6:9 NKJV
The fact that you are at least engaging says to me that you have some doubts about your carefully constructed system of doubts. The Bible is the truth. It is not necessarily easy or an instantaneous process to access all of that truth, but if you are interested in hearing, God will provide (if not through this ministry, then through another). But there has to be a humble heart genuinely interested in the truth. After all, our Lord spoke in parables for a reason, namely, to separate the wheat from the chaff:
And He said to them, "To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, so that
"Seeing they may see and not perceive,
And hearing they may hear and not understand;
Lest they should turn,
And their sins be forgiven them."
Mark 4:11-12 NKJV
There is no salvation apart from committing oneself to Jesus Christ the Lord through faith.
"I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
John 14:6 NKJV
Yours in the One who is the only way of salvation, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Thank you for your thoughts, and indeed your kind thoughts. Faith, of course, is also a magical thing. But there is no evidence found that it works. As I previously mentioned, concerning John 14: 13 we find Jesus saying "You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it! I tried asking Jesus, but nothing happened. For the son of God to make false promises negates the very idea of godliness. Shame
You're very welcome. As to faith, if there were evidence, then it would not be faith. As it says in Hebrews:
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
Hebrews 11:1 NLT
I know all about anger, believe me. Anger in Greek is orge, and to the Greeks it was the fundamental emotion, the basic principle of loss of control and insanity (compare English "mad" which can be both an emotional state of anger and becoming non compos mentis). Anger and arrogance go hand in hand. When we become enraged, what are we really saying except that in our opinion it is a case of lese majeste? We see ourselves as great and we see the slight we have received (however defined) as diminishing our persons and thus requiring radical corrective action. In most cases, however, acting this out will have horrendously bad repercussions (as in domestic abuse, road rage, quitting one's job, etc., etc.). A large part of humility a virtue that for most of us has to be learned through hard knocks consists in understanding that we are not really so awesome as we think. We are sovereigns of our free will, true, but in this world that free will bumps into all manner of material restraints, time and space, our fellow man, all manner of political and legal powers against which we are largely powerless. Even notable dictators eventually meet their match. Every human being needs to accept that we cannot even turn one hair gray or black, or add even a fraction of an inch to our height. We are all subject to gravity, even if we rage against it. This may seem obvious to the point of banality, but when we are angry, even the patently obvious can be swept away in the emotion of rage. Momentary anger is bad enough; smoldering anger is worse because it eats away at everything inside of us. Anger is arrogance's handmaiden because it empowers the insane notion that we are better than others, more deserving than others, needing more respect, more substance, more power than others and threatening all manner of retaliation and vengeful action when frustrated. In many ways, this is the fundamental problem with human society, a problem that cannot be corrected because it is inherent in the sin nature of all human beings. But not only does the deadly combination of anger and arrogance almost always result in horrific consequences for the person in question (along with those he/she comes in contact with) if we are imprudent enough to act out -- it also has horrific spiritual consequences. This was, after all, the devil's path. He became arrogantly more impressed with himself than he should have done; grew angry about his "sorry plight"; and launched a rebellion against the Lord.
For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
James 1:20 KJV
Which is to say that we are never going to get anywhere with God by being angry with Him. In fact, disappointment with the Lord (for whatever reason) is one of the leading causes of apostasy. But here, and I hope you have been following me, we have an even greater case of arrogance. It is one thing to find fault with our fellow human beings and with human systems for their maltreatment of us they are indeed imperfect and, who knows, we may actually be in the right (though arrogance and anger are still going to lead to inappropriate responses on our part, right though we may be in principle and to some degree). But God cannot do wrong. The Lord knows everything; indeed, everything has been planned to the last detail. Whatever He does for us or, in the case of discipline, "to us", must by definition be fair and just and right. He loves us more than we can possibly know Jesus died on the cross bearing all of our sins so that we might not be cast into perdition (that is the measure of His great love).
You have a grudge against the Lord for not answering you. But consider that it is not for you to define the how and the where and the when and the to what degree or the in what manner of His response. And He is answering you. He has lead you to a ministry that can and is certainly willing to answer your questions. And if this were too little, He would do more (there are other ministries, other ministers who might do so). But you have to be willing to receive the answer you are given. That is, you have to accept in humility what He does, and you absolutely must repent of blaming Him, finding fault with Him, bad-mouthing Him. That will get you nowhere (nowhere good, that is). What you are experiencing is as old as the human condition older, since it is at the heart of the devil's revolt. The main reason we are here on earth is to make up our minds as to who is really God. That may seem ridiculous and on one level it certainly is but God did give us His image. He gave us the free will to decide for ourselves whether or not we are willing to accept His sovereignty. Now He is sovereign; and before Him on that day "every knee shall bow"; but only those who accept His rulership and His authority here on earth will be with Him forever. God is not going to force anyone to spend eternity with Him. The problem for all those who prefer to be master of their own fate gods unto themselves in this life and have an eternity without God because they do not wish to compromise their will or bend it to God's WILL is that God is the author of all blessing and apart from Him there is only cursing.
And how do we bend our will to His? It wouldn't even be possible for us to do so if He did not love us enough to remove the great impediment between Him and us that otherwise prevents even those who are willing to humble themselves before Him from returning: Sin. Sin is the great barrier between man and God. Blessedly, God the Father has removed that barrier once and for all by judging all of our sins in Jesus Christ, His own beloved Son (Eph.2:14-16). How do we humble ourselves, submitting our will to His WILL? Only by accepting His Gift, the Person and the Work of Jesus Christ. Any humble person which certainly includes any person who has been humbled by life and draws the correct conclusions and not the wrong, satanic ones will gladly do so.
God loves you; are you willing to respond to that love? God is waiting to accept you; are you willing to accept the Gift He has given you in Jesus Christ?
Blaming God is just an excuse. Anger is just a mask. At the root of all rejection of the truth is the arrogance that defines creatures made in the image of God but born in sin, the fundamental unwillingness to bow the knee to the Lord. That is the madness the devil exhibits and the madness most human beings have embraced (though it has myriad manifestations; Eccl.9:3). There is nothing down that road but death, judgment, and destruction.
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.
2nd Corinthians 5:20 NKJV
In the Name of the dear Lord Jesus who did indeed die for you that you might live with Him forever,
Many thanks for your admirable quotation;
" Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see".
The most enlightening and honest answer I have ever been presented with. Bravo! The contents of your email are required reading, there is much to digest and contemplate. When it is time I hope I may be able to further communicate with you. Thanks
You are most welcome. And you may certainly write me back any time. There is much similar material at Ichthys, but the biggest and most applicable posting is BB 4B: Soteriology (it discusses many of these issues from a variety of viewpoints). You might also find The Satanic Rebellion series interesting.
In Jesus Christ our dear Savior, Lord and Master,
I am writing sooner than I expected. Actually I have put aside my originally intended question to you because of some misgivings as to how you might receive it. You see from your comments I elicit a gentle spirit, a gentle heart so to speak. I may send the pending observation at a later date. In the meantime let me put the following before you. During their long years of captivity in Babylon the Israelites despaired over the loss of their land, their temple and their god. To restore their ebbing faith the prophets spoke of a future saviour, a Messiah to come who would restore their lost Kingdom. But why a Messiah when the Hebrews already had an Almighty god.? But of course that was the problem was it not? The much vaunted Almighty had seriously failed to protect his chosen people. So they hoped for somebody else, a Messiah who would restore their lost fortunes. They hoped for a mighty warrior-not a god- to lead them to victory over their enemies. That is why the Jewish peoples rejected the rabbi Jesus, he was not of the right stuff, so to speak, he was no military man, no strategist who could plan and execute the overpowering of Rome and its despised occupation. Regards
The Word was with the Father before creation (Jn.1:1ff.). And the Plan of God (see the link) had to envision everything that would take place were creation initiated. What this means is that the provision of a means for the redemption of mankind was the foundation of the Plan of God (since human beings are the solution to the conflict involving the other species of morally responsible creatures made in the image of God, namely, the angels). Put another way, creation necessitated the cross, the death of Jesus Christ for the sins of every single person He would create.
Collectively we are the diapason of the perfect creation, perfect in the true sense of encompassing a plan which would both create angelic and human kind but also allow for self-selection into eternity by honoring the free will decision of each angel/human given the image of God (the right and the ability to make our own moral decisions . . . within the short time frame of human/angelic history). True choice guaranteed sin; sacrifice was thus necessary for the impediment of sin to be removed in order to allow for a return to God by those persons willing to return. Hence, the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the incarnation of the second Person of the Trinity, was obligated by the act of initial creation. Indeed, He is the Rock upon whom the ages are constructed.
For these reasons (please forgive the brevity of this precis; the details are in the previously provided link), it is not surprising that the Messiah is foreshadowed in everything that God has given us. Animal sacrifice, which predates even the Law, is the essential picture of the cross, the literal blood of the animal which accompanies its death symbolizing the spiritual death of Christ on Calvary as He paid the price for all human sin while yet alive. Indeed, virtually everything in the Law looks forward to the cross.
Therefore, the fact that the majority of Jesus' generation did not recognize Him only exposes their hardness of heart. Some did receive Him. They, as with all today who bow before Him and accept Him as their Savior, have eternal life. The others are lost.
He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:10-14 NKJV
So it is certainly true that the generation of hardness, "this generation" which will not pass away until the Lord returns (Matt.24:34; cf. Rom.11:25), did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah because they wanted the crown without the cross. There will be a crown (the second advent; cf. Gen.49:10 "The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the rulers staff from his descendants, until the coming of the one to whom it belongs, the one whom all nations will honor." NLT); but there first had to be a cross (first advent; cf. Gen.3:21 "Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin [i.e., from slaughtered animals symbolic of the cross], and clothed them." NKJV).
People mythologize the Bible all the time; no doubt they do this to remove it as an impediment to living their lives the way they prefer. In order to make any headway spiritually, however, the Bible has to be accepted for what it truly is, the written Word of God, the tangible and legible counterpoint to the Living Word of God, our Savior Jesus Christ.
For "who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?" But we have the mind of Christ.
1st Corinthians 2:16 NKJV