A Defense of The Apostle Paul

PaulSaul of Tarsus developed quite a reputation in the world of the early Christian church, zealously hunting down those who taught and preached in the name of Christ. He was on his way to Damascus, with arrest letters from the Jerusalem Sanhedrin in hand, when he had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. As the Apostle Paul he became one of the most prolific church planters and writers of the first century; 14 of the 26 New Testament books are his letters (epistles) to various individuals and churches.

But here’s the rub: Do we today make too much of Paul? Does our attention become Paul-centered rather than Christ centered? Just because he wrote many epistles that become a major component of the New Testament, is everything Paul wrote the Word of God? Which is why I propose a defense of Paul to consider and respond to these criticisms. Continue reading

You’re Right, I Must be an Idiot

Don’t you love it when non-Christians, atheists, gay-rights activists, etc. reference the Bible and tell you that you’re reading it wrong? “Most of the Old Testament was negated and set straight by Jesus” and “You go out and stone a bunch of people, I’ll be living to please Jesus in the meantime” are on the list of things I’ve been told. I was told “the Old Testament pretty much doesn’t matter anymore” and the evidence for this claim was Jesus responding to the question about the greatest commandment. Kudos for knowing Jesus’ answer to that question; Love the Lord you God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. A second is just like it, love your neighbor as yourself. This was an example of Jesus setting things straight.

The problem is that Jesus responded by quoting the Old Testament. Continue reading

Where is God?

Where is God? Lots of people have a take on where God might be. Atheists believe that there is no god of any kind, anywhere. Agnostics believe there may be a god or some type of higher power, but we either don’t know what that is or perhaps we cannot know. Deists believe the universe was set into motion like the gears of a clock, but that we are tiny and insignificant to such an omnipotent God. Then there’s New Agers, Scientologists, Oprah and so forth. Some spend their entire lives looking for God, but he isn’t hard to find. The truth is it should be hard to miss God. Continue reading

Tips for Creating MP3’s

faith-by-hearingI have to thank Challies Dot Com for sharing this link, so that I can share it with my audience.

Faith By Hearing is the first 4 column blog I’ve ever seen.  Digital Etiquette for MP3 Creators gives some tips on how to do a better job of turning sermons and lectures in MP3’s that are both easy to find and of a manageable size.  I appreciate the advice, and perhaps many of us would do well to heed it.

Faith By Hearing has an extensive catalog of sermons and teachings by many well known speakers, some of whom may surprise you.  Their site will be added under the Useful Resources links, and I highly recommend spending some quality time there.

“He Cannot Save Himself”

He Cannot Save Himself

Many questions were asked of him,
though no answer was heard.
Pilate pressed him to respond,
but Jesus spoke not a word.

As prophesied by Isaiah,
like a lamb he was silent.
Which angered the crowd even more,
and they began to riot.

Governor Pilate faced the Jews,
and in order to honor custom,
told them that at their choosing,
he would release one prisoner among them.

He knew that Jesus was delivered
out of envy, malice and vice.
But the crowd choose Barabbas,
shouting “Crucify Jesus Christ.”

Pilate washed his hands before them,
saying “I am innocent of this man’s blood.”
The crowd said “Let his blood be upon us,
and upon our sons.”

They stripped off his own garments,
placed on him a robe and crown.
And then pretended to worship,
before him kneeling down.

They placed on his head
a crown made of thorns.
Then they spat, hit and slapped him,
and mocked him to scorn.

They compelled the man Simon
to carry his cross.
And divided his garments,
by casting lots.

They made for him a sign,
placed over his head.
“This is Jesus, King of the
Jews” the words read.

Thieves were crucified with him,
on his left and his right.
One was loud and boastful,
the other more humble, contrite.

“We are guilty of our crimes,
and deserve to die this way.”
And when Jesus saw his faith,
promised paradise that day.

“He cannot save himself” they mocked,
as his blood fell to the ground.
But they were crucifying an innocent,
in whom no guilt was found.

This was God’s plan of salvation,
established before there was time.
Each event had been prophesied,
and now fell perfectly in line.

The trial, the false witness,
his hanging on a tree;
It was all prophesied clearly
in Isaiah fifty-three.

So the words of their mocking
are actually true, you see.
He could not save himself, for
on the cross… he saved me.

On the Subject of Theology

theologyTheology – theo meaning having to do with religion, ology meaning the study of something. Theologians are those that study religion.  We need not all be theologians, but a Christian should at least know what we believe, and hopefully why we believe it.  In this we are lacking.

In his Collapse of Evangelicalism, Michael Spencer says ” massive majorities of evangelicals can’t articulate the Gospel with any coherence.”  The next day after reading these words, our school chapel sang Hymn 604 in the Baptist Hymnal, which ends with these words: “And repeat the gospel story ’till his name the world has heard.” We have not done this.  It is not surprising that the un-churched do not know how to become a Christian, but church members not knowing how one gets saved is unacceptable.  Continue reading

Theological Trivia Questions & Wacky Search Terms

I’m going to start a new category on my blog listing some of the wacky questions I get asked.  WordPress lists the search engine terms that people type in that leads readers to my blog, and some of those make you wonder what people are thinking.  I’ve often laughed to myself, but decided other people might want in on the joke.

I’m not making fun of anybody.  There’s an old saying that there are no stupid questions, only stupid people who don’t ask questions.  Often times though, the very question being asked reveals the person’s misunderstanding of the subject.  What’s funny is not that someone doesn’t know the answer, but that their  whole mindset is misguided.  This is especially true of theology.  Continue reading

A Scriptural Perspective on Economic Collapse and Financial Bailout

We live in the richest nation on earth.  It may be borrowed money, and we may be about to pay the piper for it, but Americans are simply the wealthiest society ever in history.  We currently consume over half of the world’s natural resources.  The poverty line in the United States is higher than the per capita income of many nations.  My dog drinks cleaner water than about half of the world’s children.  We spent more money last year on ice cream than NASA spent in the entire space program.  That is the beauty of capitalism.  The revenues generated go back into fueling the system.  Carl Marx predicted capitalism would destroy itself, but you see, greed makes it work.  Our greed drives us to work harder, put in more hours, educate ourselves to get higher positions, etc.  And what do we do with all of that additional hard-earned cash?  WE SPEND IT, creating jobs and providing increasing salaries for our friends and neighbors.  So what went wrong? Continue reading

I Hate Theology.

No, I’m not saying that I hate theology. “I Hate Theology” is the title of an essay that has been reposted at Internet Monk, and I got the chance to read for the first time. This is a link to the original post, here is an excerpt that gets to the heart of the message:

I hate this, and I am not ashamed to say so. Christ didn’t call theologians, he called disciples. Let’s follow Jesus, not just talk about the two natures. He didn’t establish a seminary or a library, but a church, which is a pretty down and dirty business that does a lot more than just stare at its confessions in wondrous rapture and awe. He didn’t give the great debate assignment, but the great commission. We’re on mission with a God who is doing great things in history. Or are we? Some of us are theologizing about ministry so much that we appear to be undermining ministry itself. It’s a great commission to make disciples of all nations, not a great commotion about who can be more literal about the elements of the Lord’s Supper.

I’ve written a lot lately about being the salt and the light, and I’m probably not done yet. This is what iMonk is saying; you can debate and discuss all the things that ministry should be and do, but then someone still has to do them. Discussing the salt of the earth and being salty are not the same thing. Jesus actually mentions this. Telling someone to go their way and be fed is not the same as feeding them.

This is just one point iMonk makes in his essay. You really should read the whole thing, and don’t get mad too quickly. It might not be what you think it is (the whole book by its cover sort of thing). I listen to a lot of preachers, I read lots of blogs. Very few things you hear or read are worth putting into practice in your everyday life. I’m suggesting this is one of them.

The Faith of Satan

We’re studying the Gospel of Mark in our Sunday morning small group, and my wife was fascinated by one of the stories in chapter one.  As this person possessed by a demon is approached by Jesus, he identifies Jesus and asks why he is there.  Jesus at once commands his silence, then casts out the unclean spirit.  This event was early in his ministry, and Jesus didn’t want anyone blabbing out who he really was just yet.  On at least one occasion, Jesus will instruct those just healed to tell no one what has happened.  The interested thing, though, is that the demonic spirit knew immediately that Jesus was the Holy One of God when he saw him.  Many people would listen to the sermons, see the signs and wonders, and still not believe.  Jesus would read from the prophets, have long talks with leaders such as Nicodemus, and still people would walk away puzzled not knowing what to believe.  But any demon or unclean spirit Jesus encountered at once knew who he was, and often questioned if they were to be punished before the time.  We should not be surprised at their apparent knowledge. 

Jesus exists from everlasting to everlasting with God.  The Nicene Creed describes him as being the eternally begotten Son of God.  Before their fall from grace, the angelic beings worshipped God (and his Son) in heaven.  Consider also the temptation of Jesus by Satan in the wilderness.  The devil can quote scripture, no doubt.  And just why was he offering Jesus all this stuff anyway?  He knew that by following God’s plan, Jesus could ruin all of his plans.  Herod had tried to kill Jesus as an infant, now Satan would attempt to derail his ministry just as it was beginning.  Just because someone believes in God or knows scripture doesn’t make them a true believer.  This is illustrated by James 2:19 that says “…even the devils believe and shudder.”  They know the scripture, the prophesies, and even the God that created them better than we do.