WAS THE OT GOD TOO HARSH OR LONG SUFFERING?

In his classic book, The Holiness of God, R.C. Sproul deals with this issue in some detail. OT Jehovah gets criticized by some for His presumed harshness in dealing with the Canaanites for example. (1) “Far from being a history of a harsh God, the Old Testament is the record of a God who is patient to the extreme.”  He heard the Israelite slaves in Egypt cry for help. He rescued them via Moses and the Red Sea miracle. “They responded by worshiping a gold cow.”

(2)   “Sin is cosmic treason.” None of us is innocent before a holy God. It’s an act of mercy that any us is allowed to live past midnight tonight. Never cry for justice. Mercy is our only hope.  (3) God has given us so much patience and grace and mercy that we take it for granted. Now we demand it but God owes us nothing. “We delude ourselves into thinking that either God doesn’t care about it or that He is powerless to punish us.” (4) The Canaanites and certain other pagan groups were also idol worshipers. some even offered child sacrifices. ” There was none innocent. The conquest of Canaan was an explicit expression of God’s righteous judgment on a wicked nation.”  (5) “The most violent expression of God’s wrath and justice is seen in the cross. If ever a person had room to complain of injustice it was Jesus. He was the only innocent man ever to be punished by God. Here is where our astonishment should be focused . . . Golgotha.”  (6) We cringe when justice is administered while taking His grace and patience for granted. It is we who are out of step—unthankful for God’s mercy.

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HAS SCIENCE MADE THE BIBLE AND FAITH OBSOLETE?

Here are some points/questions for Bible skeptics.

(1)  The Bible indeed agrees  that skeptics will not appreciate and understand its truths. (1 Cor 2.14; 1.18). Outsiders are not privy to its message.

(2) Science may answer how questions but not the deeper why questions. Can science provide ethical values? Are scientists suggesting that morality is not needed? Where does ,morality come from? Nature has no morality. Darwinism is admittedly amoral. Do moral values arise from mud or rocks? Does a sense of justice arise from dinosaur bones?

(3) Scientists exercise faith daily. No one is able to empirically back check/verify each important decision. In lab tests, the  findings are assumed by faith to be reported ethically by the lab worker. Chemists take by faith that their instruments have been accurately calibrated by the manufacturer. By faith we trust our auto mechanic to repair our car and bill us ethically. Each time a biologist flies, he bets his life on the airline providing qualified, sober pilots and planes in good repair. That’s faith.

(4)   For centuries Judeo-Christian values and practice has impacted  the Western world. This extends to art, music, science, U.S. Constitution, laws, jurisprudence system, national holidays, customs and literature. It has become so common it is often taken for granted. To dismiss this with a wave of the hand suggests prejudice and intolerance.

(5)  The Scientific Method calls for various options to be examined. Yet it is common knowledge that in countless grade schools and universities, theists are not given equal time and are even discriminated against. Is the integrity of education in doubt? Has  objectivity and respect for diversity been lost?

(6) Those who would like to become doctors are still outsiders to medical know how, skills and training. Bystander comments are not expertise. Unschooled outsiders are not insiders. Voicing opinions  does not make them a knowledgeable insider.

(7) Ask skeptics if they just expressing bias? What scholarly theistic books have they read?

 

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IF THERE ARE OBJECTIVE BIBLE DOCTRINES WHY DO CHURCHES HAVE DIFFERENT BELIEFS? WHY DON’T ALL CHURCHES BELIEVE THE SAME THING?

 

There is not one magic bullet to resolve this question. Here are just some factors as I  see it.

  1. First, we do well to avoid what let’s call the perfection snare. If all do not believe that the earth is round, does that make it any less true? If all elementary school students do not accept a school policy, does that make it any less true? If some employees don’t agree with company policies, does that invalidate them?
  2. Protestantism broke away from the Catholic church under Martin Luther and the Reformers (16th century AD). They differed on whether the church/ pope  or the Bible should be the final authority.
    1. First, we do well to avoid what let’s call the perfection snare. If all do not believe that the earth is round, does that make it any less true? If all elementary school students do not accept a school policy, does that make it any less true? If some employees don’t agree with company policies, does that invalidate them?
  3. I believe God wants diversity and variety in non-essential matters (type of music, dress, hair length, worship, church polity and leadership structure). There are about 38,000 denominations worldwide according to Operation World. “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.” -old saint.
  4. Some believers prefer formal worship; others want more informal, some happy-clappy. Different groups give prominence to different Bible truths.
  5. Mans’ fallen nature plays a big role. Some churches are founded by more mature leaders than others. Focuses vary: systematic theologies vary, evangelism, foreign missions or reaching a particular sub-culture (bikers, native Indians, inner city, mobile home parks).
  6. False teachers and cults can lead those astray that don’t know the Bible well.(1 Cor 1.18; 2.14).
  7.  Satan is the father of  lies and a deceiver. His agents confuse some churches with distractions and lies.
  8. In other religions various branches exist also. In Islam there are: Sunnis, Shi’a, Sufism, Ibadi, Ahmadiyya. In Hinduism there are Salvism, Shaktism, Vaishnavism and Smartism. These are just the major branches.
  9. New churches without  tradition are tempted to get caught up in passing fads including  new doctrines.
  10. No single has all the strengths and no weaknesses. God may raise up different groups for different ministries. Doctrinal emphases accompany these.
  11. There has long been a parade of church differences from conservative to liberal. Viewing this  in the context of John 3 – Nicodemus and Jesus:   some churches might be called “Jesus” churches. He preached the New Birth, salvation, to lost Nicodemus (Jn 3.3,7). Other churches reflect Nicodemus’s perspective in John 3. He did not understand the New Birth, aka salvation. He asked Jesus, “How can these things be?” (v-9)  (Jn 3.4,10).
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Questions for Skeptics, Atheists

  1. Are your views grounded more on intellectual facts or moral/immoral desires that you cling to?
  2. The Darwinist is bound in the cage of time, space and matter. As matter cannot create itself, this naturalist has nothing to use for origin. Ex: a Toyota cannot create itself. A manufacturer is required. Darwinists have no matter, no material   to use for origin. Science has no answer. He must believe by faith that something may  explain it in the future. “Out of nothing comes everything and everybody”? This is contrary to repeatable science principle.
  3. Explain how order arises from chaos . . . including the long, orderly DNA chain?
  4. How does morality arise  from materials? How does mind arise from mud? Physics equations from unthinking nature? How consciousness arises from dirt?  -after Stealing From God
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Got a family member you cannot really talk to?: Building conversation bridges

It was lonely growing up. I was  a quiet, little kid. As a youth my Dad was into his business and drank at night. He did not devote much time to we three children or mother. She paid a heavy price– emotionally and  conversationally deserted, so alone.  An  interactive relationship with my Dad was missing. He was open but just not focused on meeting our social needs. Love was AWOL.

Now looking back through a believer’s eyes, I think I could have developed a richer relationship with Dad. Occasionally he would share some pearl of  wisdom or other insight. Those he did share I have  treasured and try to employ. His gems included:  ‘beware of any business deal where they won’t give you time to think it over’ . . . . ‘don’t loan money to friends’ . . . . ‘build you house on high ground.’

Now I wish I had encouraged him to share more and more and more. He loved it and I did too. Even though we were not his uppermost interests I could have built more of a relationship. I could have focused on what he liked to talk about naturally—business stuff! I could have zeroed in on that one area he enjoyed! I wish I had used it with my Mom and uncle BB as well.  But they are all gone now. Opportunities missed, gone forever.

Obviously this principle is well traveled but I did not apply it to my situation.  It can be utilized to build relationships with whoever. Take an interest in others’ interests. We need not remain caged in silence.  Opportunities await! Who has a loved one out on the lonely fringe? Got a friend struggling to enter relationship land?

” . . . but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man to his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Phil 2.3-4)”

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Why the atheist or believer will not have all his Bible questions answered?

Why the atheist  or believer will not have all his Bible questions answered?  Like feeding a dead cat is reasoning with one not open to truth.  I am focused on atheists and skeptics who attack, who ask questions, but do not seem interested in serious, objective discussions. . Some seem to be adrift in the sea of debate. Evidence  of God’s existence  cannot replace the required faith to believe.

Many answers to spiritual issues are indeed available. One should bring a burning issue in his soul to God, to His treasure chest of wisdom, the Bible, to a Christian advisor. Answers can come  through:   revelation from nature itself,  the Bible,  the Holy Spirit and  the Living Word, Jesus Christ.   Still it is obviously not God’s will to reveal all things to us. Let God be God. He has not invited finite man to sit on His Board of Directors or offer policy advice. Humility is the wiser path.

Those who seem overly insistent on extracting answers  might be asked a question themselves. If you want  God to talk to you, are you reading the Bible? Do the easy things first. Suggest a passage or book to them. I often recommend the gospel of John.

Not having all  our questions resolved in this life can prompt us to walk by faith.  Does a wise human father  explain all his decisions to his children?  Hopefully he has their trust.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” (Prov 3.5-6 NAS).

Another reason God does not answer all our questions is spelled out in Scripture.  ” . .  can be made known only by Divine revelation . .  at a time appointed by God . . ” Vines Expository Dictionary, p 779.  Some of these topics are: spiritual truth generally. “but holding the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience” (1 Tim 3.9 NAS) (1 Cor 13.2; 14.2; 2.6-16); hidden forces regarding the kingdom of God  . .  “And He [Jesus] answered and said to them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.”” (Matt 13.11 NAS) (Mk 4.11); the Rapture (1 Cor 15.51); Christ Himself (Col 2.2; 4.3); the Church (Eph 5.32). W.E. Vine has a  publication, Twelve Mysteries of Scripture.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matt 6.33 NAS).

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Should Christians drink?

Should Christians Drink? 12 reasons for my decision.

I have friends that drink, others don’t. I am not going to get into glassy-eyed debate over this and risk losing a friend. Alcohol is a non-essential, discretionary, personal matter.  “In essentials unity [salvation doctrines], in non-essentials liberty. In all things love.” – attributed to St. Augustine. But even where there is no law against texting and driving, Is it  a neutral issue? Does God give us  common sense for a reason?

1. A social drink will not steal a regenerate Christian’s salvation. We are not saved by our works. But it can erode our one clean testimony before a watching world (Act 1.8). Does it help or harm Jesus’ cause when a drunkard or lost sinner sees a true believer walk out of the store carrying alcohol? Will he be seen as a hypocrite? Can you imagine  a convincing salvation testimony from a  true Christian in a bar, alcohol on his breath, drink in his hand saying . . .  “Have I ever told you how Jesus changed my life?”?

2. Many are the testimonies of sinners saved/rescued from a drinking/ partying lifestyle.   They repeatedly say one of the first things they walk away from is the bottle.  Will wise men learn from the mistakes of others?  (1 Ptr 3.15).

3. Romans 14.21: “It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles.” Am I caring towards others? Many children who drink or do drugs first saw their parents drinking. People are watching us.

4. Alcohol abuse is common, and alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States. Nearly 17 million American adults ages 18 and older have an alcohol abuse disorder — that’s almost 7 percent. Roughly half of all adults have a family history of alcoholism or problem drinking, and more than seven million children live in households with at least one parent who drinks too much, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. -www.everydayhealth.com

“In contrast, alcoholism involves changes to neurons in the brain that create obsessions, such as the feeling of needing a drink or compulsive drinking, which is drinking at times you didn’t intend to or drinking more than you intended,” says Lander. Alcoholism is considered by many experts to be a chronic, or lifelong, disease. -www.everydayhealth.com

5. I desperately want to reach the lost sinners but God has not called me to be a beer hole, booze head. (Prov 20.1; 23.20). “You can’t get some one out of the ditch, by getting down in the ditch with them” – L. Roloff.

6. Alcohol and weed are the kindergarten for the heavier drugs. Self destruction starts here. (Prov 23.29-35)

7.  Is life about me? Will I please self or Jesus? Am I on a business trip or pleasure cruise? (Matt 6.33).

8. Let’s avoid  a double standard. If it’s OK for  a Christian to hang out in clubs or with the party crowd, is it OK for your pastor to drink as he preaches? (1 Ptr 4.3)

“The hardest thing in the world to defend is drinking liquor.” –  Abe Lincoln,   lawyer, President

9. Heavy drinkers cling to the John 2 story where Jesus turned water into wine. But they overlook the fact that before honoring her request, he rebuked her sharply for it (Jn 2.4)! (Can many of us recall our own prayer requests which later we regretted?).

10. Regular drinkers tend to run with other drinkers. . . . birds of a feather . . . They can find  clean, godly Christian friends and Christian activities  fade. Failure in the Christian life is a slow leak not a blow out. We need that stable, godly, clean speech, Bible compatible conversation, influence, quick access to prayer and wisdom. Is drinking stealing my Christian fellowship?

11. THE USA has become one big happy hour . . . alcoholism is  the Devil’s speed wagon. . .  sad. Morality suffers. Alcohol is tearing lives, marriages and families apart. . . . so much heartache. I work with these hurting, blinded, enslaved, bleeding souls.  If one is serious about glorifying God, will he leave  the worldly crowd and be a godly example, a role model?

12. In Bible school we received wisdom in dealing with these grey area decisions. We were encouraged to give the benefit of any doubt to  the conservative side rather than going in the other direction. Is it wiser to see how  close to Jesus we can live or how close we can stand to the edge of a cliff without falling off? Which choice has more upside/downside?

When offered alcohol I have predecided on a reply. I have a plan in place. I recall using it in a fellow’s front yard as we concluded our business. he said, “HOw about a Michelob or Budlite?” I didn’t have to fumble, I had my answer ready —“I don’t have room for liquid spirits, I want to be filled with the Holy Spirit!” . I could have just said, “no thank you,” but hopefully I planted a seed. The conversation shifted.

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Can you identify a cult?

 

“Holding fast the faithful Word” 1 Tit 1.9a . . . .”Avoid profance and vain babblings” 1 Tim 6.2 . . . .”if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you have received, let him be accursed” Gal 1.9 NAS

CHARACTERISTICS OF CULTS:

  1. Many “deny that Jesus Christ is Almighty God in human flesh”  -David Weeks. (John 1.1-3;  3.16; Luke 1.31-33)
  2. Many teach a grace plus good works salvation OR that all will be saved” Ibid. (Rom 4.5′ Eph 2.8-9; Tit 3.5; Jm 2.10)
  3. Many “deny the reality of eternal damnation of the lost in the lake of fire” Ibid. (Mt 25.46; 2 Ptr 3.3.6-7; Rev 20.13-15)
  4. They tend to believe that man is basically good not evil in nature, so sin is not viewed as important. And if man was never lost in sin then being saved from sin is also not important. Salvation through the New birth is played down. They see man as OK as he is, morally. (Jer 17.9; Rom 3.10,23).
  5. “Cults tend to have a prophet or prophetess (founder) who claims to have been directed by God to establish the cult.”  . They have writings which they typically elevate above the Bible. Ibid. (2 Ptr 1.21; Prov 30.5-6; 2 Tim 3.16-17).
  6. They twist or ignore major Bible doctrines related to salvation, the inspiration and authority of the Bible. The deity of Christ, necessity of Christ’s payment for our sin, Jesus’ resurrection, Second Coming, lostness of man, New Birth. They major on new, different or fringe doctrines which deny the centrality of Christ’s work. (Gal chpt 1,2,3)
  7. They often claim that their church or group is the only way to redemption and or heaven.  If true, that would make that group  co-redeemer with Christ. (Jn 14.6; 15.4-5; Rev 3.20).

“Believe not every spirit” 1 John 4.1

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Do you know the Signs and Symptoms of a Stroke?

  1. Numbness in arms or face
  2. Trouble speaking
  3. Change in vision–can’t see or blurry vision
  4. Sudden headaches
  5. Trouble detecting hot or cold
  6. Trouble swallowing–can inhale food or drink into lungs
  7. Difficulty walking–off balance, stumbling, dizzy, unsteady
  8. Confusion
  9. Dizziness or vertigo
  10. Loss of consciousness   –adapted from rmstrokes.com (recommended for more details)
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Are all religions just different paths up the mountain to God?

Are all religions just different paths up the mountain to God? Is a summit conference between these religion leaders/founders plausible?

Let’s pretend for a moment that all religions were different paths up a mountain to God. How might that have played out, based on the the widely different world views and contrasting theologies they hold. Buddha would not be there as he  did not believe in a god. We’d classify Buddha as atheist. He was not born until much later–563?–483? BC. He was man,  not god. Islam’s Allah makes his own decisions like a one man dictator. Who has he consulted before? I would not count on his attendance or cooperation. Hindus believe in pantheism–god is everything, unknowable and impersonal. How can an impersonal being make a personal appearance?

What of the Judeo-Christian God, Jehovah? Below is what the Bible says of Him in Old and new Testaments.

“It is I who made the earth, and created man upon it. I stretched out the heavens with my hands, and I ordained all their hosts . . . . Turn to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God and there is no other .” (Isaiah 40.45.12,22 NAS).

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. (Genesis 1.1-2 NAS).

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” (John 1.1-3 NAS).

“in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.” (Hebrews 1.2 NAS).

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