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Showing posts from August, 2018

Where Would You Go If You Died Today?

If you died today, do you know where you would go?

Heaven
Hell
Don’t know.
Don’t care.

Do you know why?

Everyone is born with a malignant disease. There are no vaccinations or shots; there is no chemo or radiation that can stop it. There is no cure in sight. It is called sin. Its basic characteristics are rebellion and selfishness.

Most of the men here have had problems with one or more of the following:

Parents
Wives
Girlfriends
Lying
Rage
Sex
Drugs – pot, cocaine, heroin, meth, etc.
Homelessness
Joblessness
Prison – gangs or threats

It is easy to think that these symptoms of the sin-disease can be stopped by willpower, education, rehab, or prison. But they can be stopped only be receiving Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection.

There is something more basic than these awful symptoms. Jesus speaks of it more than all of the other problems.

“And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge o…

Starting from the Beginning

Dear S,

Thank you for your good letter of a month ago. It seems that you have misunderstood several things in the material I sent to you. Because of your misunderstanding, you have drawn conclusions that have led you to despair. I hope I can help your understanding and consequently change your conclusions from despair to joy and hope.

The material does not say either “each will find ‘God’ in his own way” or “it all goes back to praying”. In fact, it says the opposite of that.

Here is the way:

1) The way is Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6).

2) The way is a gift.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).

“All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But, because of his great love for us, God, who is rich i…

Storing Up Spiritual Information

Dear D,

Thank you for your letters.

You say that you are reading and praying all day, but that you feel that you are still missing something and that you do not know what it is.

Here is a possibility. You are filling your head up with much spiritual information. That is not the same as filling up your heart with God’s truth. That is why you lost it when your locker was broken into.

In Luke 6:43-45, “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”

“You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil th…

A Good Psalm

One of the Psalms that has defined my life is Psalm 91. I have already claimed the first and last verses.
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come ne…

Reasoning, Miracles & God's Way of Doing Things

Dear S,

Thank you for your letter. I suggest you read The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel and Basic Christianity by John Stott.

The Bible is God’s history of sinful man and God’s solution for sin in man. God has not changed. There are miracles today. They are not reported in the newspapers or in secular textbooks. I am personally acquainted with some and have read from qualified sources of hundreds of others. There are also fakes; I know of them, too. Again, miracles are not the subject of the Bible, nor are they the important subject today. Let me quote Jesus after He fed the 5,000. "Jesus answered, 'I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs, but because you ate the loaves and had your fill'” (John 6:26).

Here is a statement of St. Paul recorded in the New Testament: "Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of Go…

Faith, Reason & Objectivity

Dear D,

I have in front of me a copy of A History of Christianity by Kenneth Scott Latourette of Yale University Divinity School. I quote from the preface:
If it is complained that this is not an 'objective' approach, it must be remembered that pure objectivity does not exist, even in the natural sciences. One is either for or against Christianity: there is no neutral or strictly 'objective' ground. Reason has a legitimate place. We must employ it in testing what are presented to us as facts and in searching for other facts. But truth is not attained by reason alone. The insight that is born of faith can bring illumination. Faith is not credulity and if that which is called faith ignores reason it does so to its peril. But uncritical confidence in reason as the sole or final criterion is a blind act of credulity which may be even more dangerous than a faith which disdains reason. Throughout the chapters which follow is the conviction that the faith which is stimulated b…

Skepticism: Faith, Reason & Truth

Dear D,

It was a pleasure to receive your letter and a great delight to read it.

People have wanted to see God for a long time. They cannot, not because of their human limitations but because if they could see Him, He would not be God. He would be another idol, a creation of man.

There are Christians who fit your description. Some of them are not true Christians. Millions of Christians are not rigorous in the reasoning because they have just been saved out of hatred, idolatry, murder, drunkenness into having joy, peace, forgiveness and forgiving. They want others to join them.

These are much better ways to arrive at truth than logic and reasoning:

• Revelation: Man is not a cause, but he has been a recipient.
• Empiricism: Theory, experiments of the theory. The results, fact or not fact.
• Observation: This has the difficulty observing facts from a biased position. This bias does not change the facts, but it might change our perception of the,.
• 1 Corinthians 2:12-15: The Spirit of G…

Faith, Reason & Morality

Dear D,

Thank you for visiting with me on Sunday. If you are willing, I hope to have you meet with my sons. All three can handle biblical questions. They are also Christians by faith, as are their children. They have had all of the questions you ask, given to them and maybe asked by them. Their education has only been secular. They have had no Christian education. They are strong-willed, but the fruit of the Spirit governs their lives. I do not expect their answers to convince you. I do expect you to see intelligent, educated people who do not close their eyes to problems, but are not skeptics.

You may also see why I gave up, many years ago, answering questions like yours.

It seems that you think your skepticism is a moral high ground. However, you have identified yourselves with many people who are not skeptics - they are dead sure of their positions. You do not seem to be skeptical of their absolute certainties. You may think that they have reasonable answers. If so, side with them …

Does God Still Like Us When We Sin?

Dear B,

You said, "When a Christian sins, God still likes him as well as loves him."

If by “like” you mean “is pleased with,” then no. However, I do not think like means “is pleased with.” I do not use the word like. God does not use the word. Even if it meant “is pleased with,” the answer is definitely not yes.
Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. (1 Thess. 4:1)

So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. (2 Cor. 5:9)There is only one type of forgiveness. God forgives our sin when we receive Christ. He forgives the sins that we commit after we receive Christ when we confess them. He already paid for them.

You also said, “Many Christians express the view that God loves them but does not like them; that is, that God has their best interest in His heart, but He is displeased on a day-to-day basis because …

Systematic Theology: Bad Reasoning

Thank you for your response. Before I comment on actual differences of content, there is certainly a difference in how we read Scripture.

You made a point that people read Scripture in light of presupposition. You gave Mormonism as an example, which is true. Many other people, mostly non-Christians, do the same. Just because people do it does not mean people should do it—certainly not Christians. The basic presupposition of the Christian should be that the Scriptures are inspired and should be read in context. The Christian should believe that they mean what they say. I may not understand what they say, but I may not make it say something else so that it is understandable to me.

Second, you seem to practice a reasoning that goes something like this: Scripture “A” says this. Scripture “B” says this. Then you draw a conclusion “C” that is outside the text. The conclusion, if you reason at all, must be in the text, too.

This is true of all systematic theology. It is a wrong way to study …

Longing for Harmony in Our Relationships

This is an article written by Scotty Smith. I thought it was worth sharing.

How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting. Psalm 133 (NLT)

Heavenly Father, having just seen a documentary on the Beach Boys, I have a fresh appreciation for the magic and power of harmony—the blending of great voices, interpreting the same piece of music. But I also recently heard a very bad wannabe Barbershop quartet. The contrast between the two was shocking.

All that to say, we bring our relationships to the occupied throne of grace today—praying for the refreshing, “wonderful and pleasant” harmony you commend. None of us want our relationships to emit the dissonance, discord, and…

You Have to Be Bad to Go to Heaven

Dear N,

You have been on my mind off and on for the last several years. My grandson told me that you had been asked him why he had not rebelled.

This same question came to me as to why my four children had not rebelled when they were all very strong-willed kids. I wasn’t sure, so I checked with them. I cannot remember Gordon’s response, but Heather’s was that she knew that if ever one of the kids stepped out of line, I would leave the ministry that same day. She did not want that to happen. Evan’s response was that they knew that real Christianity was in their home, not in the church. Doug’s response was that he could not rebel against someone he agreed with.

I bring this up because I suspect you know that I spend most of my time with hurting Christians, the second most with hypocrites–people who are pretending to be Christians but are not, and the third with unbelievers of all kinds, including those who have trouble with meth, marijuana, alcohol, and sexually immoral people.

Last su…

Parables & True Stories

Dear Friends,

Jesus told many stories. Some of them were parables, as in the lost sheep and the lost coin (Luke 15:1-10), the tenants in Luke 20, and the ten minas in Luke 19. He also told true stories like the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16 and the prodigal son in Luke 15. We also have stories of real encounters with Nicodemus in John 3, the rich young ruler in Mark 10, and the woman at the well in John 4.

Let’s look at one of the true stories:
There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on…