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Wednesday, September 11 2019

“The God of the Bible condoned and commanded genocide, so those who believe and worship God are morally depraved.” Any atheist making accusations against God has no moral ground to stand to make any judgment of anyone. The world saw the mass murder of 60–120 million people by various regimes in the 20th century spawned from atheistic ideology.

            The Creator of the universe must be the source of morality and of any real purpose and value for humanity. Many antagonists assert that God commanded mass murder via genocide in the Bible. They reinterpret the Bible to reject it, and so they forfeit honesty and lose credibility from the start.

            Some may initially think that the atheistic position has some valid points. However, God commanded, “You shall not murder” (Exod 20:13 ESV). God commanded that people love their neighbors as themselves (Lev 19:18). God defined murder, “Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent and righteous, for I will not acquit the wicked” (Exod 23:7). From the beginning, God condemned murder when Cain murdered Abel (Gen 4). After the Flood that killed almost all of humanity, God declared, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Gen 9:6). The divine likeness of humanity’s nature gives transcendent value to every person making every murder a sin against God (Gen 1:26–27).

            Regarding the Flood, the wickedness of humanity brought suffering and destruction upon them including their children (Gen 6:5–9). Many take a position like Abraham pleading with God not to kill the righteous with wicked, but God can take the lives of the innocent without being unjust (Gen 18:25). For God to take the life of a child is like a parent moving a child from one place to a better home. God does no injustice for taking the children of wicked parents because the children are safe to have life in the kingdom of God (Matt 18:10; 19:14).

            God did not command Israel to murder the children of wicked nations. God instructed Israel to offer peace to surrounding nations by requiring tribute and service (Deut 9:5; 20:10–15). God also commanded Israel to drive out and so destroy the nations of Canaan for their wickedness that included child sacrifice (Deut 20:16–18; cf. Gen 15:16). God commanded Israel to “put to death” corrupt nations by driving them out. Adam and Eve’s death was by removal from Eden and consisted of the same words for putting to death man, woman, and child of corrupt nations by driving them out of the land (Gen 2:17; 3:22–24; Josh 6:21; 1 Sam 15:2–3).

            God’s instruction to destroy the Amalekites by killing man, woman, child, and animal was a hyperbole, an exaggerated command, meaning to drive them from the land (1 Sam 15:2–3). The Amalekites continued to live after this command was not fulfilled. Did God command Saul to lead Israel and actually murder the children of Amalekites? That does not agree with God’s fundamental nature of love or His basic commands to love others (Exod 34:6–7). On a prior occasion, Israel protected women and children at Baal Peor, and Moses commanded the execution of the guilty women and the males hiding among the children (Num 31:10–11). Some have mistakenly thought that the execution of these males included children. However, Philo and Josephus reported their historical account of Israel at Baal Peor and that Israel did not kill children.

            Without God, moral absolutes cannot exist. However, moral absolutes do exist. Therefore, God lives! God’s love is steadfast (Exod 34:6–7). God is love (1 John 4:8, 16).

Posted by: Scott J Shifferd Jr. AT 07:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Sunday, September 08 2019

“You believe in god who is an immoral monster because your god permits slavery.” This is the accusation of atheists and the secular world promoting such an agnostic, negative, and distorted view of God in classrooms, in movies, and the internet. Secularism is in full attack on the Christian faith accusing the God of the Bible and Christianity for bringing chattel slavery to the world. However, slavery existed in every nation throughout the world when Great Britain and the United States were passing Slave Acts and ended unjust slavery by Christian influence.

            The Bible condemns enslaving others. Paul observed in 1 Timothy 1 that the Law is just for condemning the stealing of men as Paul wrote this in reference to the sin of enslaving others (1 Tim 1:10). The Law of Moses taught, “Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death” (Exod 21:16 ESV; cf. Deut 24:7). Enslavement was a serious crime against God’s Law that is worthy of death.

            The Law of Moses commanded that no one return runaway slaves. Moses instructed, “You shall not give up to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you. He shall dwell with you, in your midst, in the place that he shall choose within one of your towns, wherever it suits him. You shall not wrong him” (Deut 23:15–16). The Bible does not permit unjust slavery.

            The Bible is no more wrong than every nation who forces criminals and debtors to labor to pay their debts. God did and does permit a just form of bond-service for thieves and war captives (Exod 22:2–3; Lev 25:44–46; Deut 20:10–15). The U.S.’s 13th Amendment did not make all slavery illegal and reflects the biblical position on slavery when it states, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, […].

            Some assert that the Bible grants bondservants no rights. However, Moses commanded, “When a man strikes the eye of his slave, male or female, and destroys it, he shall let the slave go free because of his eye. If he knocks out the tooth of his slave, male or female, he shall let the slave go free because of his tooth” (Exod 21:26–27). God also commanded the execution of those who murdered bondservants (Exod 21:20–27). Furthermore, sexual relationships with bondservants were forbidden unless by free-will marriage and the spouse must treat the other as a spouse and not as a servant (Lev 19:20; cf. Exod 21:9–11). Bondservants did represent the money and property that they paid for them to cover their debts, but this did not remove their rights (Exod 21:21).

            The Law commanded that no one oppress anyone from another land and ethnicity (Lev 19:34; Deut 24:14). Some Israelites could sell oneself as a bondservant to work for no more than seven years (Lev 25:10, 39–40). God commanded the managers to treat those sold as hired servants and not to rule over them ruthlessly (Lev 25:39, 43). When a servant was released, the Law of Moses commanded the manager to send them away with abundant supplies of flocks, wheat, and wine (Deut 15:12–14).

            The New Testament Scriptures warned masters to give fairly to their servants (Eph 6:9; Col 4:1). The apostle Paul taught that the slave and the freedman are nothing but one in Christ (Gal 3:28; cf. Phile). Paul encouraged bondservants to seek freedom but otherwise to obey their masters (1 Cor 7:21–24; Col 3:22; 1 Tim 6:1–2; 1 Pet 2:18).

            Everyone is a slave to something or someone. Whether in bondage or free, Christians are no longer slaves to sin but bondservants to Jesus Christ (1 Cor 7:20–24; 12:13; Gal 3:26–28). For this, Christians thank God and rejoice!

Posted by: Scott J Shifferd Jr. AT 12:00 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, September 05 2019

“A loving God would not create Hell for people whom He foreknew would do evil.” Why not? As the Creator and Source of everything, God is the Source of all justice. God is just to send those who do evil and live in rebellion against God to Hell (Matt 13:37–43). God also graciously provides a way that they may turn from evil. God loves all and wants everyone to repent and be saved (1 Tim 2:4; 2 Pet 3:9).

            God created humanity with free will and yet humanity sins. All have sinned (Rom 3:23; 5:12). Sinners kindle their own fire (Isa 50:11). Each person condemns oneself to Hell (John 3:18–20; Rom 2:1–11; 5:12, 16, 18). For eternal sins, there is no injustice for those who reject God to receive eternal condemnation. Those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel “will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” (2 Thess 1:9 ESV).

            Jesus preached more about Hell than anyone in the Bible. Jesus taught an eternal punishment as He declared, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt 25:41b). Jesus reported, “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt 25:46). Jesus confirmed Isaiah's description of an unending Hell, “where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48; cf. Isa 66:24). He proclaimed that Hell is just, and each unrepentant sinner will receive their just stripes (Luke 12:47–48).

            John revealed that Hell is torment without rest existing forever for those who worshipped the Beast, a violent persecutor of the church. John noted, “And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name” (Rev 14:11).

            Eternal Hell is justified for eternal sins. The eternal God made every human in His likeness. People profane the holy nature of the eternal God by sinning and rejecting everlasting life from God’s Son, so they as eternal spirits separate themselves from God for everlasting punishment. The person who continues to sin willfully “has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace” (Heb 10:29).

            Eternal punishment is right for sins committed in and against the body. Hell is not merely spiritual but a bodily torment. Jesus warned, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt 10:28; cf. Mark 9:41–48). Jesus confirmed that the wicked would bodily resurrect to condemnation (John 5:28–29; cf. Dan 12:2).

            People dismiss God and choose Hell because they love sin (John 3:19–20). The real reason that people judge God and dismiss an eternal Hell is for their agnostic, negative, and distorted view of God and Christ. They judge God as a mere person rather than the eternal Being, the Creator of everything, and the Source of all goodness. One must have an ultimate and objective moral standard to judge the holy God, but God is the only absolute standard. A person’s arbitrary morals will not stand before God. 

            God loves all people while yet sinners, and Jesus came and died for all (John 3:16; Rom 5:8). By Christ, repentant believers have hope of resurrecting to eternal life (John 6:40; Rom 8:23–25; Titus 3:7). Thank God for sending Jesus the Christ to save us from an everlasting Hell!

Posted by: Scott J Shifferd Jr. AT 07:42 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, August 24 2019

“If God is all-powerful and all-loving, then God should stop all the evil and suffering in the world.” While this judgment of God may be convincing for some and a struggle for many who doubt, one should think of the implications. How can God give free will and yet remove the consequences of free will? God could change every bullet fired for murder into bubbles and all knives used for an assault into rubber. God could send an angel to stop every great human tragedy. However, if every act of evil concluded with neutral or positive effects, then evil no longer reveals the depth of its depravity. The reality of evil will become distorted before human eyes.

            Evil, death, and suffering have come into this world by the sin of humanity (Rom 5). Removing all evil removes free will and its consequences. Such a world would not allow the coming of a heavenly paradise to exist where good people by free will make good choices and live together by loving one’s neighbor. Instead, many want this present world to become a “paradise” where free choice has no real effect and where causality no longer applies. Such a world exists without logic, science, morality, consequences, or the need for any good actions and thus negate love.

            Why does God allow evil? God allows evil to a great extent for the complete and ultimate destruction of evil and sin through Jesus Christ (Col 2:13–15; Heb 2:14–18; 1 John 3:8). God allows suffering to communicate that the greatest tragedy in this life is temporary and minimal compared to God’s overwhelming recovery from the hurt that each person endures in this life. God allows great suffering for those who suffer greatly can experience the grace of God that gives peace in Jesus Christ (Rom 8:16; Phil 1:27–30; Jas 1:2–4). God allows evil and suffering as God’s grace strengthens a person’s character through suffering that cannot exist without suffering (Rom 5:3–5; 8:16, 28; 2 Cor 12:7–10).

            God allows evil and that allows the greatest acts of good — repentance, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, comfort, and relief — that cannot exist otherwise (Luke 5:32; 6:20–49). God gives free will and the ability for humanity to choose to flee sin and pursue holy living rather than living in a world with no real consequences for one’s actions (Rom 6:15–23). God allows evil so that people who sin can continue living by God’s mercy and have opportunity to repent because God loves all and wants everyone to repent and be saved (1 Tim 2:4; 2 Pet 3:9).

            God resolves suffering justly and overcomes death in Jesus’s resurrection. God will give eternal life by restoring creation from corruption and decay (Rom 8:18–25). This restoration includes the redemption of the faithful by bodily resurrecting from the dead (1 Cor 15:53; 2 Cor 4:17).

            The atheistic worldview is always in a continuum of collapsing so that unbelievers are always struggling to hold onto morality, meaning, causality, and reality. The atheistic perspective of reality often sets people opposing “evil” while “good” is often changing for them and denying any ultimate reality of good and evil. Secular society is always questioning and overturning every moral position. Isaiah prophesied, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isa 5:20).

            Thank God that He will make all things right. God is the Source of all good for God is love (1 John 4:8, 16). By Christ laying down His life for all, every believer can know God’s love and so love others (1 John 3:16).

Posted by: Scott J Shifferd AT 07:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, August 08 2019

“Research shows… Historians recognize… If you could read… [something]” so people argue various points of view, and few are challenged to change their minds. What use are academic papers demonstrating reasons to believe in God and Christ if the common Christian cannot apply them in their conversations. Christians need a defense of the faith that one could write on a business card and is handy enough to stick in one’s pocket.

            The Christian must recognize that not everyone is going to believe and that those who will consider the evidence for the faith must have a reasonable view of God (Acts 17:22–31). A person must be willing to consider with honesty the self-evident facts. The apostle Paul revealed, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Rom 1:20 ESV). The Christian can help those willing to consider God by keeping five reasons (more or less) to demonstrate the reasonable faith in God and Christ.

 

Here are 5 reasons to believe:

 

1. Cause and Effect: The universe must have a cause that is greater than itself. The cause of the universe must be greater in power, create order, and exist beyond the universe and its natural laws. Therefore, the cause of the universe must be by definition the supernatural Creator. Furthermore, the creation of the universe is the first miracle that proves that God does miracles.

 

2. Design: As the complex order of a smartphone being greater than a pencil demonstrates intelligent design, so the complex order of biology being greater than human inventions demonstrates intelligent design. Otherwise, everything exists by random chance or determined by the necessity of purposeless laws. Creation reveals God’s eternal power and divine nature.

 

3. Logic: Without God, no objective standards for logic could exist, because logic cannot discover logic without logic, create itself, or exist outside the mind. Therefore, logic exists constantly and eternally, so logic reveals God’s divine nature.

 

4. Morality: Without God, no objective values for morality could exist because morality would then be subject to some arbitrary foundation of self, society and, or instinct. However, objective moral values exist, God must exist who is the source of morality, and thus universal morality reveals God’s divine nature as love (1 John 3:16; 4:8, 16).

5. Witnesses: Various doubters and unbelievers witnessed Jesus resurrected from the dead and that changed their lives (1 Cor 15:1–11). The church could only begin and exist because of the witnesses of Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection. Furthermore, Peter proclaimed predictions of Jesus’s resurrection, Jesus’s empty tomb, and witnesses as evidence of Jesus’s resurrection (Acts 2:14–36).

Posted by: Scott J Shifferd AT 07:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, August 07 2019

“I feel helpless. I can’t persuade anyone of anything about God and Jesus.” The Bible has equipped Christians for every good work (2 Tim 3:16–17). However, many believers need training from their leaders faithfully to engage the world of unbelief (Eph 4:11–13).

            Jude taught Christians to “have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh” (Jude 1:22 ESV). Christians are loving and merciful for snatching doubters from the fire of Hell. Because all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, the apostle Paul revealed, “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others” (2 Cor 5:11b).

            Christians are capable of waging spiritual warfare against arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God (2 Cor 10:4–5). Victory is to take captive every thought to the obedience of Christ. However, many Christians are not thoughtful and considerate about their faith to engage the foolishness of anything being significant without God.

            A child may believe that a monster lives under their bed because he hears noises and imagines what is in the darkness under his bed. A friend may think that aliens have visited him because he saw a strange light in the sky and heard whispers around his house. Possibilities are not the best explanations for reality. Many doubt because they accept a possibility over what is reasonable.

            Does life emerge from nonliving material? No. No one has observed a spontaneous generation of life. The scientific Law of Biogenesis affirms the common and unanimous observations that life does not naturally arise from nonliving material. Someone could reason that life could possibly begin in certain circumstances, but reasoning upon possibilities is a logical fallacy. Living according to possibilities is absurd, irrational, anxious, and obsessive.

            The possibility that the universe created itself from nothing, formed from a multiverse generator, or existed from an infinite past are not reasonable. No one sees things popping into existence from nothing. No sees natural laws or complex order forming from an unintelligent generator. Nothing within the universe can exist from an infinite time in the past, because then the infinite past could never reach the present reality.

            Most people want to believe the best explanation for reality, and the best explanation for the beginning of the life-permitting universe is God. The most reasonable explanation for the origin of life is God. Believers of God stand upon the only reasonable view of reality. Furthermore, Christians can persuade by reasoning from the creative power and divine nature of God as demonstrated through what is created (Rom 1:20). Evidently, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov 1:7). How can anyone reason upon the causes and effects of the universe by denying the first Cause, the Creator, who must have existed before and beyond natural laws?

            Begin with “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1). What can people know about the Creator of the universe? The Creator must exist before and beyond the universe and its natural laws. The Creator made everything including intelligent human life in His likeness as the Creator must be intelligent. The Creator must be God who is greater and more powerful than the universe that He created. Thank God for He makes sense of all of His creation!

Posted by: Scott J Shifferd AT 07:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, August 06 2019

“Why do I doubt my faith?” People doubt in different ways. Some honestly doubt by asking questions and struggle to find answers. Others doubt because they do not want to believe something that goes against their desires and ambitions. While these two types of doubt are often very far apart, someone may experience both questions and temptations to sin. In the case of questioning, John the Baptist questioned if Jesus was the Christ but that is not necessarily doubt (Matt 11:1–7).

            Doubts vary. Some doubt is very harmful. James revealed that the person who doubts God is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind (Jas 1:6). However, some forms of doubt are a part of growing as a believer. The father of young boy pleaded with Jesus to do anything to save his son. Jesus urged him, “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes” (Mark 9:23). The father cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).

            While walking on the sea, Peter doubted and began to sink when he experienced the winds in the midst of the storm (Matt 14:28–33). Jesus spoke to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Those who doubt in a manner of questioning often feel anxiety that can result in disruptive doubt and fear causing obsessive behavior. A person may be overly concerned with “What if this happens?” For example, some people live in some fear or anxiety of crossing bridges in fair weather and avoid bridges. Many reasonably fear to see hurricane-like winds beat against a bridge. Most people live according to probability based on common experience, so they don't fear what some do.

            Some Christians doubt the faith that their parents and Bible teachers have delivered to them. They think that they might be wrong. Sometimes, they struggle with the possibility that the universe popped into existence from nothing, life spontaneously generated and evolved, and Jesus could have been an exaggerated figure in history. They seek and struggle to find answers. However, most come to see that these skeptical ideas are not reasonable and not the best explanation for reality.

            Christ has given evidence of Himself if a person is ready to accept a reasonable view of God (cf. John 5:30–47; 8:17–18; Acts 1:3). Jesus declared, “If anyone's will is to do God's will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority” (John 7:17).

            Thomas doubted Jesus’s resurrection but he was ready to accept the evidence. Thomas declared, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe” (John 20:25b). Jesus responded to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe” (John 20:27; cf. Luke 24:38). Therefore, Thomas confessed, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). However, Jesus concluded, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

            The apostles first doubted the evidence of Jesus’s resurrection that they would declare to the world, and Jesus rebuked them for not believing the evidence of witnesses (Mark 16:14). Both Peter and Paul would preach the predictions of Jesus’s resurrection, the empty tomb, and the witnesses of Jesus’s resurrection (Acts 2:14–36; 13:26–41; 1 Cor 15:1–11).

            With a reasonable view of God, everyone is reasonable to believe that Jesus is the exact image of God. Thank God that Jesus has given many proofs!

Posted by: Scott J Shifferd AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
 

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