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.