Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Debt crisis

It has been the constant theme of news reports, and the constant worry of many people - debt.  Many people have found themselves in over their head with no hope of ever getting back into the black.  This crushing burden has led some people to alcohol, drugs and even suicide.  The immense, intense pressure must be crippling to those involved.  The thought of some wealthy philanthropist coming along to bail them out would surely be a dream come true.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Special appearance

I hope you all have had a good Christmas, and that you take some time for serious reflection on the person who was born at Bethlehem and the purpose of that birth. 

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Licence to kill?

I heard a very strange criticism of Christianity today.  A Muslim was responding to claims about Islam being a religion of violence, and he said in response that Christianity teaches violence because in one of the Lord's parables there is a nobleman who commands that his enemies be brought out and slain before him.  This, said the Muslim, shows that Christ taught His people to slaughter unbelievers!  If that is the case then for the past 2000 years Christians have been very remiss in fulfilling their obligations to their Lord.  However, the Muslim got it wrong!

Religious atheists

"Religion causes all the wars, all the fanatics etc. etc. If there was no religion wouldn't the world be wonderful!"  This is not only obviously and demonstrably wrong, but it leaves atheism with egg on its face.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Faith - strong but wrong, or slight but right?

I used to work with a lady who told me about how strong her faith was, and so it was!  I could never manage to believe what she believed!  Hers was the faith that is justly condemned by atheists (and by the Bible) - faith without evidence (a faith that atheists exercise often!)

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Follow the signs. If you see the ruined temple you've gone too far.

Sometimes when you get directions they give you a landmark that is beyond your turn, and if you arrive at this landmark you know you've gone too far and missed your turn-off - it's time to look for a turning opportunity and go back.  It's a good thing when you've got something like that because it ensures you don't continue down the wrong road indefinitely.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

He loves me, He loves me not?

I want to follow up on a similar theme from the last post about the issue of the love of God.  We saw that the love of God and the wrath of God weren't opposite, but what about the love of God and the hatred of God - surely they are opposite, are they not?

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Build your own god?

I was speaking to a lady about the Gospel and I quoted a verse that speaks about the wrath of God (John 3 v 36).  She said, "Oh, my God's not a God of wrath.  My God is a God of love."

Thursday, 9 December 2010

The pot calling the kettle black?

I recently heard Richard Dawkins encourage believers in God to grow up and stop believing in God just because the belief gives them comfort.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

It's not true because I don't want it to be!

There is a difference between belief and make-believe, although some people don't seem to realise it.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Name calling

I read a very sad story some time ago about a man who felt a stabbing pain in his chest and he called the emergency services, but when the ambulance arrived at his house the paramedics waited 15 minutes before entering, and when they got in they found he had died.  Their delay probably cost the man his life.

Sorry, Christopher, wrong again

I have just watched Jeremy Paxman's (more than slightly sycophantic) interview Christopher Hitchens (can be found on BBC iPlayer).  Christopher shows again that he doesn't have a clear understanding of the Gospel and the God he so vigorously and vocally rejects.

Friday, 3 December 2010

What animal buries its head in the sand?

Apparently it's not the ostrich!  In fact, it's not an animal at all that does it, but many people do...

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Where else would you get it?

I was interested to hear on a radio broadcast recently a former Wiccan talk about how and why he became a Christian.

N/A

Some people are a bit sceptical when they hear Christians say that certain Old Testament laws don't apply today - it seems these Christians are just picking and choosing what bits of the Bible they want to obey and what they want to throw out. 

Monday, 29 November 2010

Do you take the Bible literally?

It's a question that comes up from time to time, and to answer it in one word will inevitably leave a wrong impression. 

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Who made God?

I was speaking to some students in a comprehensive school in Wales.  I was giving a brief presentation on why I believe the Bible is the Word of God.  There was a lad who put his hand up to ask a question.  The question was, "Who made God?"

Friday, 19 November 2010

Missing an open goal!

It was such a disappointment.  The conversation I was listening to took place on an American Christian radio show.  A caller phoned in to tell the host that he was investigating religion, and wanted to know, "Why should I consider Christianity?"  I think the host was so taken aback at such an opportunity that he really didn't know where to start.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

History denier!

Richard Dawkins, in his usual measured way, has described those who deny Darwinian evolution as being on a par with those who deny the Holocaust.  However, it seems that Dawkins is the history denier!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Objection, Your Honour!

It's amazing what some lawyers can do!  It seems that in some cases, no matter how strong the evidence and no matter how many the witnesses, people can (sometimes literally) get away with murder.  Persuasive words, extenuating circumstances, legal loopholes and trivial technicalities, have at times combined to result in the guilty walking free.  Such legal representation would fetch a pretty hefty fee. 

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Too easy?

The Bible teaches people are saved by grace, through faith (Ephesians 2 v 8).  In a previous post I wrote about grace, and specifically the erroneous idea that the Biblical Gospel was a Gospel of cheap grace.  We saw that the opposite is actually true.  I want to write now about faith, because some people think that the doctrine of justification by faith alone is too easy, but the reality is it's anything but easy!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Who cares?

There are those who don't have enough faith to be an atheist, but they do wonder about the character of God, especially in light of the tragedies in the world - does He really care?

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

An easy way out?

The evils done in the name of religion in general and Christianity in particular is often brought up as a reason not to believe in God.  I've never really followed the logic of that.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Cheap grace?

I have heard it said by certain people that the scriptural doctrine of salvation by grace through faith is a doctrine of cheap grace - they could not be more wrong.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

I don't take charity!

In our society in which many people believe it's their right to be supported without doing a bit of work, there are still those who believe in the virtue of work, however, it can make certain Biblical truths unpalatable. 

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Dan Barking up the wrong tree!

I was just listening to atheist, Dan Barker, on the Unbelievable? Radio Show.  He was debating the apologetics of CS Lewis.  It was frustrating, but not surprising, to hear Barker blunder with such bluster.  I offer just a few examples:

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Don't hurt my feelings!

This post takes up on the subject raised in the previous post in which I told you about a Hindu I heard objecting to Christians telling people they're wrong.  It strikes me that this is a very thin-skinned, immature attitude.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

It's wrong to tell people they're wrong!?!

The Hindu I was listening to was telling a Christian that it's fine for him to believe in Christianity, he just shouldn't tell people what they believe is wrong...

Monday, 1 November 2010

Dawkins just doesn't get it

He says he can see no logical link between atheism and acts of violence.  How about this:

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Just keep reading

What would you think if someone got a letter in the post, and after opening it just dived into random sections of it, pulling out sentences with no regard to the context in which they were written.  Would you think that would be a sensible way to go about establishing the intent of the writer and the meaning of his correspondence?  I would guess your answer is no, but then why do so many people adopt that approach when dealing with Scripture?

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Tomaytoes, tomatoes?

"Why all this petty bickering?  We all worship the same God, we just differ on the details.  Does it really matter?  Stop arguing, and unite!"  Does that sound familiar?

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

True for you, not for me!

It was a weird conversation - this gentleman maintained that there was no objective truth, I asked him if his statement was true...

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Why didn't He just say it?

I have heard Jews, Muslims and "Jehovah's Witnesses" ask this question - "If Jesus really is God then why didn't He just say, 'I am God'?"  There's a good reason, if you think about it...

Saturday, 23 October 2010

We already knew that!!!

"Are we to suppose that no one knew that murder was wrong until the Israelites got to Sinai and got the Ten Commandments?  Of course they knew it was wrong, and what that shows is that you don't get your morality from the Bible."  That's the assertion I have heard, but what is the answer?  Well, to a large extent, I agree!

Friday, 22 October 2010

Last of the Sullivan questions

It's been four weeks I think since I got buried beneath the avalanche of questions from Sullivan Upper SU, and I am just now emerging - to the students at Sullivan, thanks for your questions and thanks for your patience.  If you have any follow ups then let me know: mailto:greatnews4all@googlemail.com

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

The strawman takes another beating from Dawkins

Tip to winning an argument - define your opponent's views to suit yourself, then tear them apart.  That seems to be the tactic Richard Dawkins takes.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Double standards?

Why does God not go by the rules He gives us?  Some have accused God of having double standards...

What's the big deal about miracles?

I indicated in a previous post that I would look at why Christ's miracles showed Him to be the Son of God.  The reason for posting on this is because Christopher Hitchens has stated, in his usual dogmatic way, that even if the miracles and the resurrection did happen it would prove nothing about Jesus being the Son of God because others in the Bible performed miracles and were raised from the dead. 

Monday, 18 October 2010

It's a miracle!

Getting a handy parking space or having just the right amount of money for your shopping - miraculous?  Hardly, but there are some who are desperate to see miracles on a daily basis - it's not the way it works.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Mopping up session from Sullivan

I will now try to address the remaining questions from Sullivan's SU.

All or nothing?

The man was intelligent - his objection wasn't...

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

More homework for Sullivan

I have fallen behind in my work for Sullivan SU!  Sorry!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Did I miss something?

Sometimes you can only catch on too late that you missed a wonderful opportunity that can never be recaptured...

Friday, 8 October 2010

That's just your interpretation!

It's the line that is trotted out when a person runs out of arguments, "That's just your interpretation."  I find it quite frustrating for a few reasons...

Impossible things before breakfast?

'Alice laughed: "There's no use trying," she said; "one can't believe impossible things."
"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."' (Alice in Wonderland)

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Good enough for heaven? Bad enough for hell?

Alan was expressing his frustration with the message of the Gospel.  He told me it just didn't work - he had tried it - he sincerely wanted to be a Christian, he had come to Christ and it hadn't made any difference in his life.  I had to find out why, and I did...

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind

How can someone ever be in a right relationship with God?  How many miles would they have to travel?  How much money would they have to pay?  The messages of religion will give many and varied answers to that question.  The message of the Gospel gives an answer like no other - no miles to travel, no money to pay - just one small step takes a person to God...

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Back to school - more Sullivan questions

A couple more interesting questions from our friends at Sullivan Upper...

Monday, 4 October 2010

Copy Cat Christianity or Piggy-back Paganism?

It's one of the orthodox doctrines of our gullible, evidence-averse, anti-Christian society - Christianity copied pagan myths. 

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Without a doubt?

John had been doing a Bible correspondence course we run, (if you want to do it then email me and I'll get it to you - mailto:greatnews4all@googlemail.com).  He was burdened by a sense of his guilt, and was impressed by the evidence of the reality of the Gospel message, and he said he believed that Jesus had to be the Son of God, but he couldn't be 100% sure.  To him, this seemed to be sufficient reason for not receiving Christ as his own Lord and Saviour.  Was he right?  Do you need 100% certainty before you become a Christian?  Do you need to know without a doubt that it's true?

Saturday, 2 October 2010

More questions from SU SU

Another rapid fire round of Q & A from Sullivan Upper Scripture Union...

Friday, 1 October 2010

Questions, Questions, Questions - Sullivan Upper SU

I didn't really relish going to school back in the days when I had to, but I very much enjoy it now, and I definitely enjoyed it last Friday when I had to opportunity to go to Sullivan Upper, Holywood, and speak to the SU group there.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

What's that for?

I heard this man on a radio show saying that the Bible was useless, because every problem we've got we solve without the Bible!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Trying to fill the gap

He told me about his foreign holidays (at least two a year), his fancy car, his big house and his lovely family, and then he said he would lie awake at night just wondering if there wasn't more to life than this.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

"Try it - you'll like it", or "Take it - you need it"?

Is there any difference between ice cream and medicine?  It's not a trick question. 

Dipping into baptism

It seems so clear in the New Testament, but it's obviously not clear to everyone, because it has been a subject of ongoing debate throughout church history - the meaning and mode of baptism.  I'll say a little bit about that in a later post, but what I really want to address is the question "Is baptism essential for salvation?"

Monday, 27 September 2010

A loving God or a good Judge, or both?

He was a confirmed atheist, and had an objection to the Christian doctrine of hell.  He said that a loving God would never condemn anyone to hell.

Hell - would you believe it?

It seems far too ridiculous to be credible - demons running around with pitch-forks torturing people.  Of course I don't believe that either, but that's not what the Bible teaches about hell.  However, many just dismiss any ideas of hell as human invention and unbelievable, but I want to give you a few good reasons why you ought to believe it's real.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Who are you to say...?

Exhibit A: I was involved in some street evangelism and an elderly lady approached me and told me I would be better taking that message to Africa because we're all Christians here!  She then made her way off with me shaking my head.
Exhibit B: I was having Gospel tent meetings and a man came in (wearing a purple shell-suit!) - he told me about how he was a Christian but didn't believe in the deity of Christ, the reality of sin, the existence of hell and on and on it went.  He said, I suppose you wouldn't recognise me as a proper Christian but I believe I am.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Hell? Nothing new there!

The teaching of hell is under considerable attack.  This isn't surprising - it's a fearful thing to contemplate.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Let's get this over with, can we?

He was a big guy, and angry.  He was shouting abuse at the open air preacher, and miraculously the Lord gave me the courage to actually approach him. 

That sky hook isn't very secure

The attack was weak, but that doesn't mean that people won't be bowled over by it.  An atheist was saying that he didn't think my Lord was the great example of virtue and morality many perceive Him to be.  In fact he said that some of His teachings were downright immoral.  It never ceases to amaze me how atheists like this always saw off the branch they're sitting on and yet never feel the bump when they hit the ground.  They have a moral standard but it's suspended on a sky hook!  By what standard do they judge the Lord?  What rule was He breaking?  What law did He violate?  What is this morality of which an atheist speaks?

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Blessed saints - here and now!

He died 120 years ago, yet just the other day (Sunday 19th September) Cardinal Newman became blessed apparently, which is the last step before becoming a saint.  I have to admit to finding this all very strange in the light of the teaching of Scripture which says that believers in the Lord Jesus are here and now blessed with all spiritual blessings and are called saints:

Sunday, 19 September 2010

We will not tolerate intolerance!

I find it such a strange thing that our society shouts so much about the need for tolerance and yet is fast becoming so intolerant, and the reason is because tolerance is being redefined. 

Danger - Bridge out!

I was intrigued to watch a documentary on BBC iPlayer entitled Inside the Vatican Various people were interviewed, including one of the altar boys.  When he was asked about his thoughts on the Pope he replied that he felt the Pope was the bridge between heaven and earth.  What a tragedy!  Unfortunately for the altar boy, the bridge doesn't reach the far side or our side.  It doesn't reach the far side because the Pope isn't divine, and it doesn't reach us in our need because he didn't die for our sins.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Safe and secure?

It's another of the distinctives of the Gospel as opposed to other religious messages - you can know that you have eternal life now - the reason is because salvation is not by works.  But the question arises, can we lose eternal life, or is it yours forever once you have it? 

Monday, 13 September 2010

An empty objection to an empty tomb

It is the mantra of the liberal theologian: "Paul never mentioned an empty tomb" - sigh, how can people get away with saying such things?  It reinforces something that I often see, that intelligent people can say very foolish things, especially when it comes to the realm of the spiritual.  Let's see if Paul leaves any room for a body in the tomb.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

When counting does and doesn't count

To a Christian it is both immensely comforting and intensely frustrating to hear popular atheist arguments against Christianity.  It is immensely comforting because they are (generally speaking) so weak, but it is intensely frustrating because the people can't seem to see the weakness.  I will outline one of these arguments here.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Of whom speaketh the prophet?

It was a masterpiece of divine providence ensuring that Philip reached the chariot of the Ethiopian official just at the time he was reading what we call Isaiah 53.  The Ethiopian wanted to know who he was reading about, and Philip had no hesitation - he told him about Jesus.  However, Jews obviously don't believe Jesus is in the passage, so who do they see there, and could they be right?

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Ha! Hawking says so, so there!

The title of this post is the impression I'm getting from atheists just now, it is on pretty much all the media outlets - Stephen Hawking says that God didn't create the universe - so close up your Bibles and close down your churches, the argument is over.  I would beg to differ.

THE Question

It's an awkward situation because usually the person asking the question is looking for a one word answer, but a one word answer gives a completely wrong impression.  The question runs something like this, "Do you believe all _________ (fill in religion here, such as Muslims, Jews, Buddhists etc.) are going to hell?"  I have heard this question a few times.  I was asked it recently - the questioner had heard the Gospel and, with tears in his eyes, he asked me if he was going to hell because he was a Muslim.  I heard it in a radio discussion between a Jew and a Christian.  The host of the debate put the question to both participants - "Do you believe the other one is going to hell?"

Friday, 3 September 2010

Hitchens' unanswerable challenge...answered!

Christopher Hitchens stated that he had issued this challenge to many people and had yet to get an answer to it, here it is: Name one moral action a religious person would do that an atheist couldn't also do.  He added this supplementary - if one such action can be named, then he could name any amount of immoral actions committed by religious people that atheists would not do.

Now this challenge is so confused and groundless that I am amazed he ever verbalised it.  The challenge can be answered in a superficial way, but it can be demolished in a foundational way. 

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Minoring on the majors

It is very often stated by well-meaning people who want to bring all religions together, that we should focus on what we agree on, and stop majoring on the minors.  It assumes the disagreements are petty and not worth getting concerned about. 

It reminds me of a conversation I had with a Muslim gentleman named Mia (at least that's how it sounded, even if it's not how it's spelt).  He was a lovely man, although I'm not sure he could be considered a very good Muslim based on the conversation we had.  He came to hear me preach the Gospel quite a number of times, and one evening we had a discussion about it. 

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Defending the indefensible?

It is an issue that Christians grapple with and quite frankly often find very uncomfortable - the slaughter of the Canaanites.  While the distance in terms of time, space and culture means we are not really well-placed to enter into all the circumstances I want to attempt to address the issue in a concise way here, showing that Scripture gives us enough to go on.

Making up your mind about changing your mind

Make up your mind, Samuel! Does God repent or not?  In one chapter (1Samuel 15) we read that God tells Samuel He has repented (v11), and then Samuel says that God will not repent (v29), so which is it?

Now before answering the problem directly I think we need to say something about how to proceed with a challenge of this kind.  Any fair-minded person will acknowledge that the writer of 1Samuel was not an idiot, and we can't conceive that the writer wrote verse 29 forgetting that he was contradicting what he wrote in v11.  It is therefore evident that the writer saw no contradiction, and so, if we see a contradiction, it's obvious that we are not getting the intent of the author and we are misunderstanding his meaning.

This statement is false...!

It is symptomatic of the simplistic statements that pass for thoughtful arguments - here it is:
The Bible was written by men, men are imperfect, therefore the Bible is imperfect.
Now what is the problem here?  There are two statements to the argument, followed by the conclusion.  The two statements are undeniably true - the Bible was written by men, and men certainly aren't perfect, but the problem is that the conclusion doesn't follow.  It is not the case that everything that men write or say is untrue or imperfect.  Indeed, if you meet this challenge you can ask the challenger what is wrong with the statement he has made.  Presumably the challenger believes his statement to be true, but if men are imperfect then on the logic of the challenge the statement must be imperfect too!  Or you could respond by asking him what is wrong with the following statement, 2 + 2 = 4.

The challenger may then refine the challenge to say that a collection of 66 books like the Bible is bound to contain some errors.  Firstly, even from a purely human standpoint the challenge is only likely to be true, but not necessarily true.  If someone has knowledge of what they are writing about then they can write without a mistake.  However, the main weakness of the argument is that is assumes what it sets out to prove, that the Bible is not inspired by God.  The mistakes need to be shown, not assumed.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

The Facial Hair Congregation and the Church of Knitters

It's very worrying that he thought it was a good point, but even more worrying that his audience did too.  They actually applauded the point!  I'm referring to a statement by Richard Dawkins in response to a question about evil done by atheist dictators in the 20th Century.  I will tell you what he said in a moment, but how anyone could deem it an intelligent response let alone adequate and applaudable is beyond me.  Maybe they were the type of people who would accept and applaud anything Richard Dawkins said - great examples of "free-thinkers", hmmmm.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Blind faith

He went by the name "Mulch" or "Munch" - I can't quite remember, but we had a very spirited but good natured conversation about the Gospel.  I challenged him about the resurrection of Christ and asked him to give an account of how the tomb was emptied.  He had an answer, here it is, are you sitting comfortably?
He claimed that Jesus had a twin brother, and either the twin was crucified and Jesus appeared to His disciples telling them He was risen, or Jesus was crucified and the twin appeared telling them he was Jesus - there you go, problem solved.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Who's to blame?

It's amazing how clever people can say such foolish things.  I will write about some of these things over the next wee while but the issue that has got me writing now is something that Christopher Hitchens said in a written debate with a Christian, Doug Wilson.  He said,
"if Christianity is to claim credit for the work of outstanding Christians or for the labors of famous charities, then it must in all honesty accept responsibility for the opposite." 

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Sorry doesn't remove the stain

Richard Dawkins, straying outside his field of expertise (noticeably), has made many dogmatic but juvenile and mistaken assertions about religion in general and Christianity in particular.  In one of his attacks he asked the question, If God wants to forgive people why doesn't He just forgive them, why does He need blood?  Now Richard Dawkins was voted one of the top three intellectuals in the world, and it may surprise you to know that I am not one of the other two, but I can answer the question - the answer is because God is righteous and sin matters. 

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Guess work or God's Word?

Without doubt it was the longest and most interesting visit I have ever had to a petrol station in my life.  I had just been preaching the Gospel in a portable hall adjacent to the petrol station and called in afterwards to buy some victuals to last me the 15 minute journey home!  The woman serving at the till asked me what I had been up to so I took the opportunity to tell her about the wonderful message of the Gospel and the greatness of the salvation that God offers through Christ.  She was totally underwhelmed!  I asked her what she thought about such matters and she told me she was an atheist.  When I asked her why she was an atheist she said, "Because of science", although the tone of her voice conveyed another word, "Because of science, stupid!"  So this led to an interesting conversation about science, and resulted in her saying that neither of us know enough about science to say whether it proves or disproves God.  Despite the faulty thinking she evidenced by that statement, I let it go, just reminding her that she was the one who said her atheism was because of science. 

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

The Bible - Good Book or God's Book? Part Three

We have been looking at the fact that the Bible is a book we can rely on, but we would miss the point of the Bible if we thought it was merely a book giving us information on the ancient world – it actually claims to give us information about the present world and the world to come. It is not just a book that tells us about historical figures, but a book that tells us about ourselves and about God. Its proven reliability on matters of science and archaeology should lead us to investigate its message for us today, and would forbid us from lightly dismissing its weightier claims.

But how could we know that the Bible is actually the Word of God? The question has many answers, and we will not pursue them all, but here are a couple:

The Bible - Good Book or God's Book? Part Two

In the first post on this subject we saw that to any fair minded person there can be no dispute that we do have what was originally written.  It is one thing knowing that we have what was originally written, but a further question is whether what was originally written is actually true. The answer to this question is most definitely yes. While the Bible is not a scientific text book, it does not in any way contradict scientific facts, and furthermore, when it speaks on scientific matters it is always correct (often far ahead of its time!) While people throughout the ages were concocting theories about the world and the universe, the Bible stated (long before science confirmed it) that the universe had a beginning (Genesis 1 v 1; 1Peter 1 v 20), that the earth is round (Isaiah 40 v 22 – the Hebrew word translated “circle” indicates something spherical) and hangs on nothing (Job 26 v 7), that at one moment it is daytime in one place and night time in another place (Luke 17 v 34-36), that there is a water cycle (Ecclesiastes 1 v 7) and that “the life of the flesh is in the blood” (Leviticus 17 v 11). These are just a few of the many remarkable indications of the accuracy of Scripture on subjects that science has only relatively recently come to investigate.

Irrelevant relevance

I admit to finding his arrogance irritating, but I was trying to persevere in order to listen to his points - he was a liberal theologian and he was debating a Christian by the name of Adrian Warnock (who did a very good job), on Premier Christians Radio's show, Unbelievable?  The subject being discussed was the resurrection of Christ, with the liberal taking the view that it was spiritual, not physical.  He claimed Luke's account of the Lord saying, "Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have" (Luke 24 v 39), was Luke merely pointing out that the physical body isn't evil (as if that couldn't just be stated instead of making up a story that he claims is real history!)
I will maybe go through some of the other issues and objections he brought up some other time, but the point I want to address here is this - he claimed that if we want to be relevant to society we have to stop insisting on physical resurrection and miracles etc.  The problem is, denying these things may mean that society allows you to speak, but unfortunately you've got nothing to say!  They may think you're relevant because you believe like they do, but you are actually irrelevant because...you believe like they do!  If Christ isn't risen we really have no message for this world.  However, I did think it was a bit strange that he said that the preaching of the physical resurrection of Christ made you irrelevant - it seems to me that in a world filled with burdened souls, broken hearts, suffering, death, and hopelessness, the physical resurrection of Christ is the most relevant message we could possibly present. 

Monday, 9 August 2010

The Bible - Good Book or God's Book?

It has had a massive effect upon our society, our culture, our politics, even our language, but is the Bible just a book of great influence or is it a book of divine inspiration?  How seriously should we take it?  There are two questions that need to be addressed and we will address these questions in this post and the next.  The two questions are these:
Is the Bible reliable?
Is the Bible relevant?
Many people dismiss the Bible as unreliable mythology, others think it is irrelevant history, but let's look at the evidence.
Is the Bible reliable?
To investigate the reliability of the Bible we will address two issues:

1. Do we have what was originally written?
2. Is what was originally written really true?

1. How can we be certain that what we have in the covers of our Bible is the same as what was originally written? After all, the books of the Bible were written long ago, far away and in different languages. How can we be sure the message hasn’t been lost or corrupted over time? We don’t need to wonder or worry! The Bible stands head and shoulders above any ancient literature in terms of its reliability. Just consider the following facts:

Friday, 6 August 2010

Indifferent or incapable, or...something else?

I want to follow up on the previous post regarding the suffering in the world, and draw from an incident in the ministry of the Lord Jesus, as found in John 11. In this chapter we see the classic atheistic argument, that is, if God loves us and is all-powerful then why is there suffering?

The situation in the chapter is that one of the Lord's friends, Lazarus, was sick. Lazarus' sisters sent word to Christ to tell Him of this, and He delayed until Lazarus died, then went to the village of Bethany where all this happened. As the Lord witnessed the sorrow of the bereaved He wept. This baffled the spectators: as they saw the Lord Jesus weeping they said, “Behold how He loved him!” Then, “could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?” They saw His love and His power, so the question they arose – why didn’t He preserve Lazarus’ life? Surely He would, given His love, and surely he could, given His power. But the indisputable fact was that Lazarus was dead! The problem was, they supposed they were at the end of the story, but they weren’t! The story would end with resurrection, reuniting, greater glory to Christ, greater joy to His own, and an appreciation of Him that the avoidance of the sorrow would not have yielded. So it is with this world – we are not at the end of the story – this world will be free from the curse, and Christ will be glorified and His people blessed at the end of the story in a way that would not be possible if troubles had been avoided. You can book your place in that Paradise by receiving the cleansing and forgiveness that Christ provided by His death and resurrection and offers to the repentant.

If God's so good why is the world so bad?

"Things ain't what they used to be" - true - according to the Bible things used to be perfect, but they aren't (or ain't) now.  The presence of evil and suffering in the world is the number one (or only one?) argument atheists have against the existence of God.  It is an argument to be reckoned with, but it is an issue the Bible certainly does not duck, it faces it and deals with it.

There are a couple of things that need to be distinguished: the existence of moral evil committed by humans, and natural evil, or disasters, experienced by humans.

As regards moral evil, if we believe it really exists then we must believe that God exists, because if there is no God then there is no such thing as evil or injustice, for what determines that the acts are evil or unjust? By what immovable, unchangeable, transcendent standard can we say that certain actions are evil or unjust. If there is no God then there is no standard except ones we make up ourselves, and why should they be binding upon anyone? So the fact that we recognise things as really evil is an implicit acknowledgement of God's existence. 

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Granny & Hitler, or, What good are good works?

"So you mean to tell me that a man like Hitler can say a wee prayer a minute before he dies and go to heaven, while my dear old granny who didn't pray the prayer goes to hell, even though she never hurt a fly? Can you be serious?" It's a common objection to the teaching that salvation is by faith alone, not of works at all - let's have a think about it.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Too bad to be true?

I was invited into the gentleman's home because he wanted to talk about his problems with the Bible's teachings. (He was a pleasure to talk to because he actually wanted to talk with me about his objections rather than rant to me about his objections.)

The big issue was the subject of hell - his point was that he felt 70 years of sin didn't deserve eternal punishment - it just seemed to him like it was totally disproportionate - maybe it seems the same to you. The objection as put is an example of confused reasoning, think about it - punishment for crimes is never based on how long it takes to commit them, for example - how long does it take to murder someone? How long should that person be imprisoned? See the problem? The punishment is not based on the length of time it took to commit the crime but on the gravity of the crime. People may then say that the sins we commit are not serious enough to merit eternal punishment. But when we consider that if God exists then He must be absolutely righteous and infinitely holy, (if that weren't true then it would mean that there is some standard of holiness that He falls short of and a level of righteousness that He fails to meet - where would that standard come from?). It is therefore a crime of infinite gravity and seriousness to sin against such a God. So just reflect on this, how could there be a finite time set on the punishment?

My host then asked me would annihilation not satisfy God's requirement because it is an eternal punishment? My answer was no, for two reasons - my first objection is moral - it wouldn't be righteous because then there's no differentiation in the punishment for different sins – those who have committed most sins would have the same treatment as those who have committed less sins. My second objection to annihilation is scriptural - the Bible simply does not offer that as a possibility. The teaching of Scripture in general (Old Testament and New Testament) and the teaching of the Lord Jesus in particular is clear – there is eternal, conscious punishment for those who don't have their sins forgiven.
Although hell is what we deserve, it isn't what God desires, and you don't have to go there (1Timothy 2 v 4-6; 2Peter 3 v 9; John 3 v 16.)

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Science has what?!?

It's often aggressively stated, and dogmatically shouted that science has disproved God, but is it true? The short and simple answer is no, and to suppose that it could be true betrays one of two things, either that people are dreadfully misinformed about the facts, or that people are deliberately misleading about the facts. Consider what science is – it is the study of the physical, material universe – how could it ever be that studying the physical universe could prove that there is something non-physical? When someone armed with a microscope or telescope proclaims they can’t see God, or someone armed with a balance says they can’t weigh God, why should anybody think this is a significant statement? It is like searching every square inch of your house and then declaring at the end of it that there was no builder because he isn’t in the bricks, mortar, tiles, paint or wallpaper. The application of the illustration is obvious – the builder isn’t a part of the thing he has built, he’s outside it. If you want to find the builder you need to go beyond an examination of what he has built. So it is with the universe. God is outside of creation, He’s not a physical being, and therefore science can’t examine Him, and certainly can’t disprove Him. Indeed, the more we learn about the universe, the more we see science pointing towards a Creator. Consider again the example of you searching your house for the builder: as you search your house and notice the ordered layout, the structure, the materials etc. at the end of your search you won’t have found the builder but you will have lots of evidence that there was one, and you will have learnt some things about him – you’ll have learnt about his skill (or lack thereof), and the level of his attention to detail, and so on. So it is with science: as the universe is investigated we find it pointing to a source outside of itself, and there are things we can learn about that source. Let’s briefly consider a few ways in which creation points outside itself to an external source, and then see what we can learn about the Creator.

The Narrow Way - narrow minded?

"Jesus said unto him, 'I am the Way...'" (John 14 v 6)
He was a colleague of mine - a fellow civil engineer, and he was telling me about the voluntary work he had been doing in Guinea. He told me he had been staying with an American missionary couple. His problem was this - the people in the country weren't eating their young, beating their wives or mistreating their elderly or anything like that, so why did these Americans feel they had the right or the need to go to their country and interfere with their beliefs? My friend isn't the only one who has raised this issue. It just seems so unfair and intolerant – no matter what kind of a life you have lived, no matter how good you have been, how hard you have tried, you get these Christians telling you that unless you believe just like they do you are going to hell. Surely if God is at all fair He's not going to exclude people from heaven over some point of doctrine, after all, how you behave is bound to be far more important than what you believe.

This objection seems perfectly reasonable and totally unanswerable, but is it? Was the Lord Jesus being egotistical when He said He was the only way? Where His apostles being bigoted when they said that there was salvation in none other than Christ? Are Christians today narrow minded or arrogant when they say you will perish if you aren’t a Christian? Let’s just back up in our thinking, because it seems that the outrage people have over Christ’s exclusive claims stems from them getting off on the wrong foot.

Monday, 2 August 2010

What's it all about?

Welcome to my blog - this is my first post and I invite you to be a regular visitor here to see what is being added.  The site has a specific purpose - it will not be my ramblings about my life, but it will include reflections about life - its origin, object and outcome.  Life throws up a lot of questions, but I'm convinced that the Bible has the answers.  This site will contain the answers to questions I have asked, as well as questions I have been asked, and it may be the case these are questions you are asking yourself. 
Just so as you know, I am a Christian in the Bible sense of the word, i.e. I have received forgiveness of sins and new life through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (see Acts 26 v 18 & 28).  I want to briefly tell you why I'm a Christian (I will be going into these things in more detail in subsequent posts).