Thursday, March 30, 2006

kept by God

Recently I have been really blasted with my own sinfulness relating to God's holiness. Some of the "fuel" for this ongoing eye-opening experience has been J.C. Ryle's book Holiness (see a quote from this book and my comments on it by reading J.C. Ryle on Sin), but more than that - I think it has been a revitalized personal study and commitment to studying the Word and to prayer that God has used to open my eyes to my vast sinfulness. Now, I don't say this to pat myself on the back. On the contrary, I am ashamed that some of the things that I am learning (or Seeing more clearly), that are the direct result of the disciplined nature of how I daily esteem God and His word and how He is working in my heart, are coming into focus now instead of years ago.

Now that you kind of know where I am coming from, a little bit of encouragement for my fellow brothers & sisters who have been saved by grace (if you're not saved, or if you're not sure, take the Good Person Test to see if you are). Remember, if you're not saved - what I have to say next IS NOT FOR YOU.

As a Christian - we will never cease from sinning. We cannot, no matter how hard we try completely cease from sin. The point of our Christian life is to live trying to sin less, but it is so frustrating when we do sin against the one who saved us. Have you ever felt the way that Paul describes his own walk?

"For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.... Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?" (Romans 7:19,24 NASU)

Another great text to see how we should see ourselves in light of God's holiness would be what Isaiah said when he saw God in a vision.

"Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts." (Isaiah 6:5 NASU)

about our faith

After taking a true look at my life and seeing how wretched I really am and how badly I sin against God and cause His name to be can cause me to doubt if I am saved. But isn't it great that if we are truly saved1, it is not my job to keep me is God's. Here are a few verses to encourage you (and me) when we are striving to please God, but fall flat on our face and wonder how could God love and save me when I am so wretched.

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I the Father are one." (John 10:27-30 NASU)

"For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38,39 NASU)

1 This is the big question for many people. "Am I truly saved?" The book of 1st John was written so that we might know that we are saved (1 John 5:13). If I were to boil down what it truly looks like to be born again, it would be this: Believers sin. But, we do not wallow in our sin, we war against it (see Romans 7:19ff). If you casually sin and think, "God will forgive me because..." you're probably not saved. Because no one who has truly been saved goes through life using Christ on the cross as a get out of jail free card that you can just hold up after you've heartily broken the law. If you sin, habitually, and are not broken by your sin...that is cause for concern as well.

But...if your life is a struggle against sin - a true struggle, and you hate it when you curse, take the name of the LORD in vain, looked at a person and lusted, lied, etc. and you confess these things to the LORD and beg Him to give you new desires... that's the mark of a true believer. Also - if you're growing in holiness as time goes on, that is a sign of being a true child of God.

This topic is a big one, and I will devote more time to it in the future.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

we cannot ignore it forever...

This past weekend, we began our study of the book of Titus in "the Contenders" Adult Bible Fellowship class. Normally when I begin the study of a book, I like to get all of the facts out on the table. Other than discussing when it was written, to whom and by whom it was written, and the main points of the book, I felt compelled to go over another issue.

In our studies, we have worked through Jude, Colossians, 1st and 2nd Peter, and now we're on Titus. In all of these books except 2nd Peter (unless I am mistaken), words like "chosen" or "foreknowledge" make plain references to the biblical idea that God has chosen specific people for himself that He would save (Col 3:12-13; Titus 1:1-2; 1 Peter 1:1-3; 1 Peter 2:9; 1 Peter 5:13-14; Jude 1-2).

So far, we have not really dealt with this concept in depth, but I felt like it was now the time to tackle this one, head on. I have a few goals to frame our study, and here they are:

  1. this is not designed to be the final word in a debate that is centuries old
  2. this is designed to show biblical texts germane to this concept
  3. it is designed to wet your appetite and spur you on to study this for yourself
Main goal: My primary goal is to attempt to be faithful to and understand what the Bible talks about and what it means when it deals with words like elect, chosen, etc. I am not, nor will I ever, be able to clarify or focus things that the Bible leaves as somewhat of a mystery. Furthermore, if I avoided explicit verses and texts because of a paradox that I am unable to effectively explain, I could not teach or discuss the doctrines of the Trinity or the incarnation of Christ.

A brief survey:

"for the faith of those chosen of God" (Titus 1:1 NASU). This presents (or reinforces) the idea that people who believe in God are chosen or a specific and distinct group.

"in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago," (Titus 1:2 NASU). The phrase "long ages ago" literally means "before time began". Before time began, this promise was made to God the Son, because He is the Bridegroom. The plan of salvation was in place before Adam and Eve sinned.

Ephesians 1:3-14 This entire section is one long expression of how it is God doing everything relating to salvation, and that it is from the goodness and kindness of His divine will.

John 6:35-40, 44 This is a great picture of security for the believer as well as a picture of how one becomes a believer. The picture is this: All who come to Christ are accepted. The only ones who come to Christ are given to Him by the Father, and noone can come to Christ unless the Father draws them. This passage seems to paint the clear picture of the salvation "flow chart".

Acts 13:48 Luke does not misspeak: all of those who were appointed, believed. Not visa-versa. That order is important.

Romans 8:28-30 This clears up any misconception about what it means to be “called” or "foreknew". If you are foreknown, you are predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ; if you're predestined, you're also called; if you're called, you're also justified; if you're justified, you're glorified. We're justified (by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone), we go through life being sanctified (by the work of the Holy Spirit), and then we die and go to be with God and are glorified. This all happens after we've been foreknown and predestined by God. We cannot miss this order of the stages that God has ordained and shown us in His Word.

Romans 9:10-24 Paul shows examples of how God's choice is not dependant upon us (notice verses 11 and 16 specifically), and then he answers any objections that would malign the character of God or find fault with God for acting in the way that He has chosen.


Again, the purpose of this post is not to be the end-all be-all of a debate. Some people (myself included) have never really been exposed to how saturated the Bible is with texts relating to this topic.

but what about...

John 3:16 "whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." What does "whosever" mean if not everyone can? That is a common type of objection raised with this verse. "Whosoever" by itself doesn't throw the argument one way or the other. If anyone believes, they are granted eternal life. I neither disagree (I cannot disagree with scripture rightly understood), nor do I see this as contradicting the biblical understanding of being chosen.

Q: If I (or anyone) believe in and have true faith in Christ, will I be saved?
A: Yes (John 3:16; Rom 10:13)

Q: Does God desire all men to be saved?
A: Yes (1 Tim 2:1-9)

Q: Does God delight in the death of the wicked?
A: No (Ezekiel 18:23)

Q: Was salvation "brought" to all men?
A: Yes (Titus 2:3)

Q: Did God command everyone to be saved?
A: Yes (Acts 17:30)

how do we harmonize this?

In one simple answer: I don't know. And that is why this is such a contested topic in our faith.

If you want to know how I understand it, here it is:

I believe that God is sovereign and, in eternity past, He freely chose to set His love on and save some people. These people will, during the course of their lives, have faith in Him. I also believe that everyone is free to accept or decline the gospel message, and that all humanity would (if left to ourselves) always choose to reject Christ, the gospel, and that we would be evil continually (Gen 6:5). Praise be to God that any of us are saved...ever.

Monday, March 27, 2006

where retching stops and sorrow begins

I have to stop flipping through the channels....

So as I was flipping through the channels last night, I paused (literally for 5 seconds) on each channel to see what was on. The problem is that TBN is one of these channels that I get free with my regular ol' antenna. Here is what I saw and heard.

The scene: It was a typical promotion for any type of product or publication (both on religious TV and regular TV) and it had a telephone number to call, the price, the name of the book, etc. I can't even remember exactly what the name of the book or product that was being sold was, and you will understand why after I tell you what was said. But basically, there was nothing to "stand out" in my mind about what I saw.

The selling line: I didn't hear the whole commercial or presentation by the host, but here was the final tag line that was attempting to have people buy this book.

"Remember, you are so valuable
that it took the blood of Jesus to purchase you."

My reaction: (gasp)...(bewildered looking at my wife)...(gasp)

What? Did I hear that right? Did he just say that the reason that Jesus had to die on the cross was because I am so valuable? Really? Talk about missing the truth by a light year.

It wasn't because of our value that the Son of God shed His blood and gave up His life and rose again. We are valuable only because the Son of God shed His blood and gave up His life and rose again. Do you see the huge mega-whopping difference?

I could say tons more, but it would boil down to one main thought. We need to be so clear about who we are in relation to God. The Bible shows us that we are not worthy of Christ or His sacrifice - that is why grace is called grace. If I was worthy of it or deserved it, it would not be grace. (2 Cor 5:21; 1 peter 2:24) The reason He died to pay the price that I deserve to pay was because of my wretchedness.

Ultimately, only God is valuable. Because of this, we are only valuable if we are found in Christ.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

a desire to retch

Why...? Why...? Why do I torture myself by even flipping by the religious channels that I get for free with my TV antenna? On one hand, I like to see what is going on once in a while in order to motivate me (even more) to be faithful to the Word and preach Christ correctly. That being said...

I was flipping through the channels and came across the channel that is characterized by Word of Faith theology.1 A program was on where Benny Hinn was interviewing Creflo Dollar. If you have ever seen the word of faith garbage that permeates the various programs on this channel, you wouldn't be surprised to hear things that tell you what to do in order to be prosperous. Almost without fail, the leaders who hold this type of theology make a big point in saying that you need to speak the thing that you want to come to pass. The idea is that if you say something and if you believe it enough (don't doubt now, if you doubt, it won't happen), you will reap your reward (much bigger than what you sowed). I expect this, and am reconciled to the fact that this distortion of the Word is so readily accepted by so many people. But I was not ready to hear the example that was to be given for what speaking and then believing something will produce an actual result.

The Example:

I don't have a transcript, nor do I have a tape, so I am not able to quote Mr. Dollar or Mr. Hinn exactly, but the example that was given was of Mary in the birth of Christ. "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word." (Luke 1:38 NASU) The essence of what Mr. Dollar was saying was that it was the word that she spoke and the faith that she had in them that caused her to become pregnant. If he was pressed (which he was not), he probably would have agreed with scripture that it was the Spirit that came upon her and caused her to be pregnant with Christ. But, that is not what he said. He was making the correlation between what Mary did (speaking something, believing it, and seeing the tangible result) and what we can do - the specific context was giving money to a ministry and believing God for a harvest for the giver. This "harvest" is usually, by default, referring to money.

I was sick. I felt like I was going to throw up. I couldn't believe that the actual event of the immaculate conception of the Lord Jesus Christ was being defiled in such an horrific manner by putting the focus on the words that Mary spoke and what she believed would happen.

So, other than going off on a thorough critique and rebuke of the false doctrine that was abounding in that program that I saw - I am taking a different approach (this time). My response is simple: be diligent to make no mistakes in how I understand God's Word so that I am not guilty of such horrendous false teaching and doctrine. That being said, I know that I am not infallible, and that I will miss the mark. So I need to continually be humble and accepting of reproof if I am in the wrong. Trying diligently to make no mistakes, I will hopefully make fewer than if I were to casually gallop through the scriptures seeking the truth.

May God keep my path straight, and may I always rely on the Word of God to be my light on that path.

1 The Word of Faith movement has an understanding of faith and words that are very different than orthodox Christianity. I would sum up this false theology in this way: Faith is a power, and the spoken word is the container of that power. So in order to "get" something, you need to speak it and believe it.

There is much proof-texting done in order to attempt to back up this whole notion that our words and faith act in this way, but I have found it to be completely and totally false. And the problem doesn't begin or end with the view on words and faith - this false theology has radical implications creation (what man really is), the fall, the death and resurrection of Christ, and more.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Way of the Master on Nightline

Last Friday night, the ABC News show Nightline aired a story on the Way of the Master ministry. It was an informational and investigative piece (not an expose or an investigation of impropriety) and it was actually pretty good.

I had just a few comments on it that I'd like to share: There was good, bad, and profoundly great parts to this story.

The Good:

Overall, the reporter did a fair job of showing what the ministry is. I would sum up the ministry in the following way: Fellow Christians, we need to seek and save the lost. We must do this the way that Christ did - law to the proud and then grace to the humble. The report showed this in different encounters where Ray Comfort or Kirk Cameron would be speaking with someone and show (by their own confession) that these people violate the commandments of God (sin), and that if God judges people by His righteous standard...they'd go to hell.

That portion was done well. It was accurate not superficial, and the questions asked by the interviewer (Martin Bashere, I think) drew out the serious nature and the fact that eternal stakes compel the evangelistic team.

The Bad:

In the middle of the story, there was a segway to other things that this television ministry does. The one thing that was discussed was the debate over evolution/intelligent design. There was a small piece thrown in about how Ray and Kirk make fun of evolution by hanging out with primates and even trying to get a primate a ticket on an airplane. Let me try to reconstruct the dialogue for you:

Ray: Can I bring this chimpanzee on the plane if I buy a ticket for him?
Airline: No, the only way that this animal can fly would be if it traveled in the cargo hold.
Ray: Oh, so there is no way that he can come with me, even if he's a relative?
Airline: No...wait. What do you mean by "a relative?"
Ray: We're taught in schools that we're all related to primates, and I find that offensive, don't you...

This was not sold as a "serious" thing that Ray was doing, it was supposed to be silly and an attempt to show the foolishness of the idea of evolution. That being said - I think that the way that it was inserted into the whole story with no time to really deal with the logical arguments against evolution, but focusing on a scene where Ray and Kirk were eating with an ape as well as the interchange with the airline person put this whole portion of the ministry in a foolish light.

My thought was this - if Ray & Kirk were made to look foolish and dismissable on such a topic as evolution (because there wasn't a fair presentation of what they say, do, think, or believe) that this dismissal could translate to the main part of the story - the gospel presentation.

The Profoundly Great:

The subject was brought up about the nature of the gospel presentation - law and then grace. The reason is that sometimes when this is done, it causes an angry reaction from people who hear it. Most people don't like to be told that they're sinful and going to hell (even if it is from their own lips). And the interviewer asked a very pragmatic and reasonable question and was given a very profound answer:

Interviewer: Do you not worry that using language like this only exacerbates the polarization in your country?

Cameron: My goal is not t o depolarize an audience or a nation.

This was so great to hear. Kirk and Ray made a great point of saying that the methods that are employed are not done in order to gain popularity or fortune - but they're done in order to be faithful to the message. In fact, there were shots taken at the health and wealth "Send us your best check now, and we'll send you this cloth..." types of ministries. It was great!

It is so true that our goal should not be to depolarize the culture or an audience. The gospel, the message of Christ, is never a palatable message. It will always cause strife - it is either going to be a stumbling block or foolishness to the world around us (1 Cor 1:23). I wrote about this idea in a previous post called "Being Offensive is Necessary" and I urge you to read it and think about the message that we preach.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Ephesians 1:7-9

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him
(Eph 1:7-9 NASU)

As John 3:36 showed us the incomparable stakes of believing or not believing in the Son, this verse shows that we are saved through Him. This forgiveness is of our trespasses (transgressions against God's holiness), and that this ultimately is shown by God's grace. And that grace comes from the kind intention of God.

The act of salvation is a wonderfully free gift and it shows the most unprecedented act of love...ever. This all comes from the kindness of a holy God who redeems undeserving people.

The truth of God's kindness and love is not a contradiction to the truth of God's wrath and hatred of evil. God could not be truly kind or loving if He did not hate sin and require that it be punished. He could not truly love the victim of a crime by dismissing the charges against the criminal. He cannot love Himself if he "shrugs off" the offences to His standards and not punishing lawbreakers. So, He showed His extreme wrath and love in the single act of the death of His Son.

It is unfathomable to think that all of my sins, those that I deserve to spend eternity in hell paying for (but never satisfactorily or completely paying for), were heaped upon God Himself (2 Cor 5:21). He took my eternal punishment and actually and completely satisfied God's wrath toward me.

Thanks be to God.

Friday, March 17, 2006

dealing with the worms...

Prior articles:

If I were to sum up the reasons why I hold to and affirm the position that the role preaching and teaching to adult men (or a mixed group of men and women) is for qualified men only and not women, I would say this:
  1. The biblical passages where the qualifications for teachers/elders are listed are explicitly male. Paul was not confused about this, he was being intentional about what he said
  2. The order (in 1 Timothy 2) is primarily rooted in creation - before the fall or redemption
People who disagree with this position will raise the fact that the text also says that Christians should raise hands in prayer, women should not wear their hair in braids or wear gold or pearls or nice clothing too. The reason why these are not rules for modern women to follow, but the teaching rule is, is simple. Paul makes a distinction between his comments about the way a woman should look and the fact that women should not teach or exercise authority over men. Paul contrasts and compares the clothing (braided hair, gold, pearls, costly garments) with the concept of discretion and modesty.

So, where as the clothing issue for women is related to modesty, the teaching issue is related to creation. That is why one is more of a subjective standard, and the other is a completely objective standard.

Since this is the final segment of this topic (for now, at least), I have debated whether or not to share the paper that I have been reading. I didn't want to point out the church that published this paper, but I also don't want people to think that I am not being fair to their arguments. Read it for yourself, if you want to. You can click here to read the entire 21 page document affirming a woman's right to teach/preach that sparked this whole issue.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Do you have the Son?

"He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." John 3:36 (NASB)

This verse captures the need for Christians to preach the gospel and it also captures the need for eveyone to understand and heed the gospel.

We always must remember that "believing" is not a simple acknowlegement of a fact and then moving forward in an unchanged (or mostly unchanged) manner. The Apostle Paul wrote, "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:1,2) Paul shows us what a Christian is to "be" like.

There is a false teaching out in the culture today that you can have true saving faith and yet no real change in your life. This is called "easy believism" (catchy name, huh?). In previous posts (click here to read my post on repentance), I have shown different passages in the Bible where we see that the demons believe and know the truth of God, but they aren't saved. There is a huge difference between saving faith and dead faith (James 2). James 2:26 makes the illustration picutre perfect and clear: "For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead."

The stakes are high, the lines are drawn, and the truth is clear. Do not be deceived, do not try to fool God or think that you will repent on your death bed. You truly may be able to do that. But do you know whether you'll have a death bed? Do you know that you won't be in a coma? How do you know that you won't be so bitter by all of life's problems that you will not even want to think about God, much less bend your knee to him?

Don't wait. You may not have may not.

If you don't think that you need to repent or if you think that you're OK, please click here to test that theory.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

opening the can...(part 2)

(please read a can of worms and opening the can...(part 1) before reading this post)

The more I look into the arguments presented supporting the egalitarian view of women in the ministry, I am more and more confused how one could arrive at this position if we look at the Bible as it lays itself out. I attempted to address the wrong way of interpretation that uses general verses or vague verses to trump (so to speak) the explicit and clear verses. Let me give you an example.

Bible verses concerning women and ministry1:

  • 1 Tim 2:12 "But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.
  • Acts 18:26 "and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.”
  • Romans 16:7 "Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me."
  • Galatians 3:28 "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
Egalitarian Conclusion: Because we know that we are all one in Christ Jesus, and we know Paul uses the Fall (as well as creation) to denote who should or shouldn't be elders or pastors, we now understand that Paul was not making statements about all women being elders or pastors in the passages like 1 Tim 2, but he was addressing only specific groups of people with no ramifications other than that. Gal 3:28 shows us that there is no distinction in Christ, and we have many examples of women who held these roles that have been thought to only be for men. Basically, the effect of salvation is the breaking of the roles or curses imposed by the fall.

Value/Worth verses Role

This is an overriding issue that seems to come up in this argument, and it is not really relevant. The thought is this: If men and women are equal in God's eyes (being equally redeemed and equal valuable because of Christ's substitutionary sacrifice), there is no cause for distinct gender roles once we are saved and in Christ.

If this were a true comparison and it was correct to understand that equality of worth necessitates no distinction in function or role, then what are we to do with the Trinity? This may seem to be a question or comparison that is not fair or relevant, but hear me out. I agree that men and women cannot be compared to the Trinity in worth, value, or role, but the intrinsic working and function of the Trinity may shed some light on how we need to view the workings between men and women.

We know and understand that God the Father, the Son (Christ Jesus), and the Holy Spirit are all equally God - they are equally worthy of praise because they are equally God. There is no hierarchy of godness. That being the case, no one can disagree that the Father has a different role than the Son who has a different role than the Spirit.

"There is, apparently, a subordination within the Trinity in regard to order but not substance or essence....The Father creates (Isaiah 44:24), the Son redeems (Gal. 3:13), and the Holy Spirit sanctifies (Rom. 15:16)."2

We can also see this difference in role by looking at John 6:38 (as well as the surrounding verses) where Jesus says, "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me." Let us not make the mistake of equating a role with the value of the one who fulfills the role.

A primary verse that seems to be used to dissolve the distinctions between male and female roles is Galatians 3:28 (cited above). In my estimation, the incorrect usage of this verse for this purpose cannot be overstated. This verse is not talking about what roles we have, it is talking about our identity in Christ. To say that the meaning of this passage is a dissolution of gender roles that were only a result of the fall is not good. If Paul were so adamant about this idea that once we're in Christ, no more are we bound by male or female roles, why didn't he include the "no male or female" comment in the parallel passage in Colossians 3:11? Why did he write about the qualifications for elders and overseers and use male language. Why didn’t he write qualifications for elders and overseers and use male and female language? It is true that there is female language referring to female deacons (deaconesses), but there is not a verse in Titus 1 referring to the qualifications of elders that says, "a woman must be the wife of one husband, not a malicious gossip, or lazy with her children...." There is no verse like that. It is also important to note that a deacon is not an elder, and an elder is not (necessarily) an apostle. The roles of deacon and elder or apostle are different, and they have very different functions. (Acts 6:2)

What about Phoebe, Aquilla, or Junius? Aren't they examples of women in the ministry?

What about these examples of women? The paper that I read is filled with many examples of women in ministry roles.3 I want to deal with the more prominent of these different examples individually:

Junius (Romans 16:7): Junius is refered to as being "kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were Christ before me." Even though this is the only cited example of a woman apostle,4 the same section affirms that we don't even know if Junius was a man or woman. I actually laughed when I read this portion of the paper...I confess. If there is something so disputed as to the sex of the person in this verse - how can we use this as a biblical example of women in traditionally male roles? Furthermore, how can we use this as the only example of a woman apostle? Perhaps I shouldn’t have laughed as I did, but in truth – using this example is laughable and unfortunate.

Priscilla (Acts 18:26; Romans 16:3): "The passage reveals that Priscilla was involved in discipling and teaching Apollos. There was a church that met in the home of Priscilla and Aquila. It is difficult to imagine that she did not exercise her teaching gift there."5 This passage (Acts 18:26) is more specific than the reference to Junius in that we understand that Priscilla and Aquilla were a husband and wife team and that we see that they were both involved in the instruction of Apollos. The problem is that we are not told what Priscilla actually did. I think that it would be a monstrous argument from silence to say that this shows that Priscilla instructed him by herself in certain circumstances. Also, I think that the phrase “It is difficult to imagine that she did not exercise her teaching gift there” is a betrayal of the actual methods of interpretation being used by the author of the paper and a revelation of what information is actually weighed out when coming to a conclusion on women in the Ministry. To use this text and this speculation as proof for how Priscilla fulfilled the role of a teacher over men, while it is not as laughable as the text cited for Junius being an apostle, is still a stretch and not worthy of building any serious doctrinal understanding upon.

Furthermore, there is nothing wrong (in my understanding of the Word) with a husband and wife sitting down with a different man and discussing the scriptures, reading them, and growing in holiness together. In that circumstance, it is possible that the wife could say things that are very beneficial. This is totally different than this same wife leading a gathering of the saints in a sermon or tending the flock of God. Again - we cannot miss or fudge the issue here. The prohibition for women teachers and elders does not forbid women from learning, discussing, or teaching scripture - they just prohibit women from teaching or instruction over men as an elder (teacher) would do.

Phoebe (Romans 16:1): The language used to describe Phoebe seems to show that she held the position of a deaconess. I think that 1 Timothy 3:8-13, which gives the qualifications for deacons, is the only biblical text that includes women in any of the offices (elder, pastor, deacon, apostle) of the church. This is a huge deal. It looks like Paul wanted to let us know that qualified women are to serve as female deacons (deaconess). If he did this with the role of a deacon, why did he not do it for the role of overseer (1 Tim 3:1-7; Titus 1:7-9) or elder (Titus 1:5-6)?

We also must understand the difference between these roles. A deacon is not an elder, nor are they responsible for the same things. In Acts 6 we see that the original deacons were chosen to tend to the needs of the believers. This was so that the apostles would not "neglect the Word of God in order to serve tables." (Acts 6:2) Caring for the physical needs was and is an important ministry in the church, but it was not the same task as the preaching of the Word.

Phoebe was to be accepted taken in by the Roman church because, "she herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well." (Rom 16:2) The paper puts a great big emphasis on the word "helper."

"Phoebe is called a “prostates.” According to the Liddell and Scott Lexicon, it literally means “one who stands before; ruler; a chief; a leader of a party.” According to Thayer’s Lexicon, it means “a woman set over others.” The verb applies to elders in many places, where it is translated “to rule” or “manage” (1 Thess. 5:12; 1 Tim. 5:17; 1 Tim. 3:4). This is what Phoebe did in the church." 6

What, exactly, is this paper contending that Phoebe did? Is this saying that she ruled or managed the apostle Paul? So, there was a position of authority and leadership of the early church above an apostle? Really?

No, not really. I do believe that Phoebe was a deaconess, but that is it. There is no legitimate basis for thinking otherwise.

I will attempt to conclude my comments on this paper as well as this issue in an upcoming post. I apologize that this one has ended in an abrupt fashion.

1 These are verses that "The Role of Women in the Church" use to make it's argument.

2 "The Role of Women in the Church" pg 12-15

3 "What is the Trinity?

4 "The Role of Women in the Church" pg 15

5 Ibid. pg 14,15

6 Ibid. pg 14

Friday, March 10, 2006

opening the can...(part 1)

a can of worms is the prequel of this post, and where the name for this one came from.

I was doing some investigating on the website of a Baptist church that I used to attend (my brother was the worship leader for a time) when I came across a document that serves as the position paper for this church on the role of women in ministry. Specifically whether women can or should serve as the pastor/teacher office that has been traditionally occupied by men only.

The position paper that I read (as well as the church that endorses it) was unabashedly egalitarian in the approach to and conclusion for this question. It seemed to me that the entire flow of the argument in this paper hinged mainly upon two things (that are equally co-dependent as well): 1) interpreting Galatians 3:28 as the key verse about men and women issues, and 2) seemingly interpreting vague passages as precedent over clear teaching passages.

Because of the lengthy nature of this paper1 (21 pages), I am unable at this time to go over it in a step by step/point by point critique so I will try to summarize some of the parts that were most unsettling to me while doing my best to fairly represent their argument.

In the very beginning, this paper presents 4 possible interpretive methods that have been used to interpret this passage. The first and second are clearly unbiblical methods of interpretation and, to the credit of the authors, are quickly rejected as being denials of biblical infallibility. The third possible interpretive method basically says that the Bible says what it means, and means what it says – exactly. "Women are subordinate to men, unable to exercise any teaching ministry or even to raise a question at a business meeting."2

I found the representation of this third interpretive method very interesting. It is true, that this view does interpret the Bible to mean exactly what it says and that women are subordinate to men, but that is where the fair representation of this third view ends, and the straw man begins.3 Where does the Bible restrict women from any teaching ministry all? We see clearly that women are prohibited from teaching or having authority over a man (1 Tim 2:12). The kind of teaching referred to here is not saying that a woman cannot or should not teach ever or in any way - it means that a woman is not to be the teacher of men. One of the things that the Bible does encourage women to do is to love of her children and be a worker at home (Titus 2:3). In the same context where women are forbidden from teaching men, we see that "women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint." (1 Tim 2:15) This shows the exact context where women not only have the place of a teacher (in spiritual as well as natural things), but we also know that in the biblical paradigm a woman has more influence (more time spent) with the children that she is teaching than her husband does. So it can rightly be understood that women are to teach their children, and this is a proper place of teaching for women.

What more glorious ministry is there than to shepherd a small number of children in the ways of the LORD from the earliest stages of life until the time when these same children are having children of their own? The amount of influence here dwarfs the amount of influence that a single pastor will have on any one given person in the duration of that person's life.

Where does the phrase "even to raise a question at a business meeting" come from? This is absurd! Church business meetings, as we are familiar with them in western culture, are place where everyone attends, asks questions, voices opinions or concerns, and decisions are made regarding the ministry of that local church. Would Paul have had any cultural context at all for the setting of a business meeting to be understood in this passage? No! The leadership committees of the early churches were seemingly the elders - they got together, talked and prayed over the issues, and made decisions. So, this insertion of the business meeting example is one of the most absurd and unfair ways to characterize what this text is really saying.

The closing to understanding this interpretive method is accurately stated that it "only forbid a woman to preach a sermon, or teach an adult Sunday school class if men are present, or hold a leadership office, such as elder or senior pastor." This is the way that this position should have been characterized.

The fourth interpretive method that we are shown is to seek to "interpret these statements in light of their context and historical background, while looking for the timeless message to the church of Christ in every age and culture. Admittedly, this is not always easy to do."

The way that this interpretive method, the one that is the standpoint of the writers of this paper, is set forth is also a little questionable. By only stating the importance of context and historical background information in this method implies that these factors were not important in the previous one...or at least they were not that important. The danger with this way of interpreting these passages, specifically the phrase "looking for the timeless message to the church of Christ in every age and culture", is that we must be careful to not water down the specific and implied meaning so that it is palatable to our current way of thinking.

That being said, there is a timeless message to the church that can be found here. The Bible has set forth many principles and practices that will not be accepted or understood and that will be challenged by any and all societies. The reason is that the very nature of the gospel and of the Bible is to reveal God's intent and plan - that Christians are to live differently, act differently, and think differently than the fallen world all around us. We live in a world where sin reigns supreme in the lives of the vast majority of people, and thus dominates all cultures and skews all thought and understanding.

A side note:

I was amazed at how much of this paper was aimed toward combating the abuse, degradation, and relegating women to second-class type citizens instead of dealing with the main issue that they are trying to address: namely women in ministry. The Bible has never endorsed or argued for the abuse of women. So lumping the issues of leadership and abuse together is not called for. The paper and its arguments start this skew early when it says, "We will begin by considering what the great pillars of biblical theology tell us about a woman's value and worth." 4 One of the chief errors of this paper and it's method of understanding these scriptures is seen by this whole phrase - the more I look at it, the more I think and see that both value and worth are irrelevant to this discussion. Women have the same value and worth as men do, of course: Other than being created in the image of God, we all are worthless (we have no intrinsic worth or goodness of our own accord) apart from being found in Christ.

I'll close this post with a summary of a comment that I heard Allestair Begg make when he was preaching on church roles and responsibilities. He said that it is a grave error to view the roles or ministries of pastor, elder, or deacon as positions of status or worth. They should rightly be regarded as positions of service. When we lose site of the fact that any Christian ministry is primarily about service (as seen when our LORD washed the feet of His disciples) and not status, we have a sad and wrong view of ministry.

1 Whenever the terms "paper" or "position paper" are used in this post, they are referring to "The Role of Women in the Church" which is the paper posted to a local Baptist church's web site.

2 "The Role of Women in the Church" pg. 1

3 "strawman" is a term used in debate where you mischaracterize your opponents statement or point of view so that it looks ridiculous and it is easier to defeat, debunk, or disprove.

4 "The Role of Women in the Church" pg. 2

Thursday, March 09, 2006

It is not good...

for man to be alone. And boy - do I know that.

Today is my 4th wedding anniversary, and I cannot even tell you how much of a difference my wife, Stephanie, has made in my life.

I can't give her bigger compliments than I think and believe that she is truly becoming a Proverbs 31 woman. I only say "becoming" because she is so young and so relatively new to being a wife and mother that years of expereince, growth, and maturity will make her shine as a truly godly woman.

Prov 31:10,11,26-30

An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.

She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
"Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all."
Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.

You are more precious to me...I can hardly stand it. I have told you many times that if I had been responsible for "picking" the perfect wife for myself, I would have chosen so many things that make up who you are - but God is gracious, and He has given me so much more than I ever knew that I needed in you. You are truly a wise, prudent, and understanding woman. You have much more of a restraint and loving way of using your speach than I do, I pray that this quality of yours will rub off on me. Micah loves you, and you can already see what a great mother you are in him. He blesses you (and me) in the way that he acts. His demeanor, temper, and genuine gentle and loving spirit are a testimony to what he sees in you.

All of my love is yours.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Reading Christian Literature

My wife bought "Contending for Our All: Defending the Truth And Treasuring Christ in the Lives of Athanasius, John Owen, And J. Gresham Machen" by John Piper as a pseudo-anniversary present for me. This book, as evidenced by the title and subtitle, is going through the different fights and struggles that these men endured to preserve the gospel so that we could have easier access to the pure gospel.

I have only begun to read the book, but I was struck by a quote from C.S. Lewis, and I would like to summarize what this quote, as well as Piper's comments on it, means and implies. C.S. Lewis basically said this: For every modern book (or two) that you read concerning the Bible theology, and eternal things, you should read one book from the past. Books that are contemporary are, as Lewis states, still on trial and the average reader (or even some scholars who endorse the book) are not suited to effectively judge whether it is a good, solid book. However, a book that has been around a while has been thoroughly discussed, dissected, and analyzed so that the flaws or biases that it does possess are well known to the reader. Also, when I read a book from the 18th, 19th, or early 20th century I am removed from that time and place when it was written. Therefore, I do not necessarily have the same "blind spots" or "hang-ups" that the author does, so I can more easily agree, whole-heartily, with some of the book that is time testedly true but yet not accept other parts because the same time testing has shown the errors of some of the author's "hang-ups."

I also heard someone say (not sure who, though) that if you could you should read three books on the same subject:

  • a contemporary book
  • a book from 200+ years in the past
  • a book from 200+ years in the future

This formula would allow us to see our present situation and understanding from 3 points of history (past, present, and future) and then we would be better equipped to understand the present. However, since we cannot read books that haven't been written yet, obviously, we must content ourselves with reading books from the past to balance books from the present.

Practical Application:

When we read any popular book or many similar books from a popular movement, we may have the tendency to become persuaded to that specific point of view simply because of the vast amounts of material present as well as the present popularity of them. Books written about the "changing" Christianity or new ways "be Christian" need to be weighed in light of not just our contemporary culture, but in light of the history of the Christian faith, and above all - the Bible (understanding it in the manner in the way that the author's who wrote it and as the Holy Spirit who gave it intended it to be understood).

For example, books about the emergent church that either advocate or philosophically come from the standpoint of the "hermeneutic of humility" (stating that we cannot know for sure what the bible says) are so popular in our post-modern world (go figure) that the unsuspecting, ignorant, or lazy person who is examining the faith (or even may be a "Christian" teacher or scholar) can easily be led astray - possibly eternally so. For this reason: if we cannot know "for sure" what the Bible says, then we do not know what man must do to be saved, and then there is no gospel message, there is no hope, there is no foundation.

It has been said that there is no such thing as a new heresy or new false teaching, just the same old ones dressed up again in new clothes. We need to beware and be aware, otherwise we have only ourselves to blame.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

a can of worms

I have had an ongoing dialogue about various important contemporary Christian issues with a co-worker who attends a church that I used to attend. These conversations have included general Spiritual health, growth, and true salvation, as well as issues surrounding the emerging church movement and most recently the role of women in the ministry - specifically as pastor, elder, and teacher over men.

I was checking the website of that church (I don't want to include the name of that church at this time because it isn't important in this context) and I found the position paper of that church on the subject of women in the ministry. The short story is that this church affirms that it is biblical for a qualified (seemingly defined by this church as gifted with teaching, knowledgeable about the Word, etc.) woman1 to be a pastor or teacher.

I do not hold this opinion (nor do I see where the Bible teaches this) that the pastorate or a teaching elder or anyone who would teach men in church is a position that women are allowed to occupy. Notice I did not say "able" to teach. A woman may be able to teach, and she may be a good teacher and she may be wise in the Lord and know and love the scriptures...even better than some men who hold a position of pastor or elder.

But that is not the point.

The point is, it always is, that we need to conform ourselves to the model that the Bible has laid out for the Church. This has to be the stance that we have, otherwise the biblical model can revised and or can be discarded... and then what do we have?

My goal today was to write my response (counter-point) to this in depth paper, but instead I told my co-worker to read this article because I thought (for no necessary reason) that he was of the same understanding as I am as to who should or shouldn't be a pastor/elder. I was wrong.

He and I had a lengthy conversation - mostly on instant messenger - regarding this issue. It was a good exercise for me to test my ability to back up what the Bible says in 1 Tim, Titus, and other places against some arguments using biblical text as well. Needless to say, I have not been able to complete my response because my energy was used in the more direct debate.

I am working on that response, and I hope that once it is done that it will be helpful in this ongoing debate in the church today. And I hope to show why the erosion of this truth of the gospel (only qualified men can serve as pastor/elder) can have a dangerous slippery slope effect.

1 It is an oxymoron to use the terms "qualified" and "woman" referring to a pastor or elder. The Bible is so clear that one of the qualifications is to be a man. I almost couldn't write that phrase (as evident by my parenthetical statement).

Without holiness...

Christ will be master of the heart, and sin must be mortified.

If your life is unholy, then your heart is unchanged,
and you are an unsaved person.

The Savior will sanctify His people, renew them,
give them a hatred of sin, and a love of holiness.

The grace that does not make a man better than others
is a worthless counterfeit.

Christ saves His people, not IN their sins, but FROM their sins.

Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.


Monday, March 06, 2006

J.C. Ryle on Sin

“We, on the other hand—poor blind creatures, here today and gone tomorrow, born in sin, surrounded by sinners, living in a constant atmosphere of weakness, infirmity and imperfection—can form none but the most inadequate conceptions of the hideousness of evil. We have no line to fathom it and no measure by which to gauge it. The blind man can see no difference between a masterpiece of Titian or Raphael and the queen’s head on a village signboard. The deaf man cannot distinguish between a penny whistle and a cathedral organ. The very animals whose smell is most offensive to us have no idea that they are offensive and are not offensive to one another. Fallen men and women, I believe, can have no just idea what a vile thing sin is in the sight of that God whose handiwork is absolutely perfect—perfect whether we look through telescope or microscope;”1

1Holiness: It's Nature, Hinderance, Difficulties, & Roots by J.C. Ryle (page 7)

Friday, March 03, 2006

"If you is what you was, you ain't"

I am not sure who this quote originated from, but let me assure you, it wasn't from me. But I have heard it a few times recently, and I'd like to tell you what it means.

if you is - if you are living and acting now
what you was - in the same manner that you were before you got saved
you ain't - then you aren't saved

The Bible is very clear that after a man is born again, he is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). There is a true and undeniable change that is seen by the turning away from sin that happens when you are born again. When this happens, a man realizes the nature of his own sin and how greatly he has offended God by it, and out of love for the God who saved him - he turns from it and wars with the sin that is in him (Romans 7:14-25).1 This war with sin is a winning war, even though we will never be fully victorious while we still live.

The initial act of repentance is always a loving response to salvation, not a legalistic prerequisite to it. I saw John MacArthur once, and he was asked if Christians would sin less as they grow older and more mature in the faith. He acknowledged that no one will ever be sinless while living, but a believer will sin less as he's growing in Christ. He concluded his answer by saying that as a true Christian (one who grows more and more mature in the faith) will sin less but feel worse.2

The Bible is very clear that there is an undeniable and totally distinguishable difference between a true Christian and a false Christian. Just as the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) attests to the true salvation of a Christian, the lack of these fruits as well as how they act (James 2:26; 1 John 1:6) as well as speak (Prov 15:28; Matthew 12:34; 15:18; Luke 6:45; Ephesians 4:29) will show a false Christian for his or her true colors. A Christian is not a Christian by mere profession alone (see James 2). And don't think that just knowing about God or paying lip service will fool God (Matthew 8:29; Mark 5:7; Luke 4:34; James 2:19) - He knows and judges the heart, and He will not be fooled (Gal 6:7).

Don't fool yourself or turn a deaf ear to the truth of this. There are so many people in the church (any church, my church, your church, etc) who have heard the truth of the gospel and who may even be able to tell you the story of the gospel and even have an understanding of sin (personal and otherwise)...but if they haven't been transformed by the gospel - they are probably not saved. I know that this sounds shocking, insensitive, or worse.... But, it is the truth.

In closing:

It is true that God will save everyone who comes to the foot of the cross in true repentance and humility seeking the forgiveness of sins by the perfect, substitutionary, and undeserved sacrifice of Christ. This happens by the unconditional surrendering of the will, body, and heart of an unsaved person to the supremely righteous, holy, and gracious will and plan of God.

It is also true that God will condemn everyone who is not forgiven. And we know that we are saved and by obeying God, and we also know the price of not obeying God (John 15:5-11).

1I deal more with the concept of repentance in "Is Turning From Sin Legalism?" where I comment on an article written and posted on

2He was asked this question at the 2006 Faith Builder Event sponsored by AM 980 KKMS.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Never, never neglect the Word of God

The Word will make your heart rich with truth, rich with
understanding, and then your conversation, when it flows from
your mouth, will be like your heart-- rich, soothing, and sweet.
Make your heart full of rich, generous love, and then the stream
that flows from your hand will be just as rich and generous as
your heart.

Above all, get Jesus to live in your heart, and then out of your
heart shall flow rivers of living water, more rich, more satisfying
than the water of the well of Sychar of which Jacob drank. Oh!
go, Christian, to the great mine of riches, and cry to the Holy
Spirit to make your heart rich unto salvation. So shall your life
and conversations be a boon to your fellow man; and when they
see you, your face will be like an angel of God. Wise men will
stand up when they see you, and men will give you reverence.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Christ Reincarnated? What?

One of my vices is video games. I especially like to play first person shooters or the overview type games (Empire Earth, Star Craft, Age of Empires, etc). I have a lot of fun when I play them, but I try very hard for them not to encroach too much on my real life and the important things therein.

That being said, I was playing a game online the other night with a group of guys - the guys I usually play with are from Canada, Virginia, Chicago, and Texas - and it's been fun to interact with them. Most of the guys (I hope all, actually) know about my faith in Christ and my commitment to Him. I have sent them the link to this blog, and I know that some have read it from time to time. I have had various conversations about the things of God with some of the guys - some deeper and longer conversations than others and some have been short comments, affirmations, or statements from me in response to something that was said.

The most recent issue that came up was a question by one of my Canadian friends, here's kind of how it went (I'll call the Canadian guy "Peter J." and another guy from Virginia "Hoover" in this conversation):

Peter J: So Eric, tell me about reincarnation.
Eric: What?
Peter J: Tell me about it, what do you know.
Eric: Um,'s a bunch of crap - to be frank. It doesn't happen.
Hoover: It doesn't happen.
Peter J: Well, what about Jesus. Didn't he reincarnate after he was killed?
Eric: No. He was resurrected, not reincarnated.
Peter J: What's the difference, then?

Well, since I've never really been confronted with this question and confusion, I will address it to the best of my ability.

First, let's define the terms:

Reincarnation is defined by tbe as rebirth in new bodies or forms of life; especially : a rebirth of a soul in a new human body; or a fresh embodiment.

Resurrection is defined as the "act of rising from the dead, from resurgere to rise from the dead." Also, if it is capitalized it means the rising of Christ from the dead, the rising again to life of all the human dead before the final judgment, or the state of one risen from the dead.

There is an alternate definition used by the Christian Science Church as "a spiritualization of thought: material belief that yields to spiritual understanding."

First of all, let me say that the Christian Science understanding is anything but a bilblical understanding. And by that, I mean that defining resurrection this way is done by not using or mangling the texts of the Bible so that they seem to say something that is not being said.

I am not an eastern religious mystic, a guru, or a sage so I cannot speak authoritatively on any one religions nuanced definition of reincarnation, but I can speak about it generally and how it relates to the Biblical account of Christ: what happened to Him after He was crucified.

I think to get a complete understanding of what the Bible says happens after death, we can look at a few key passages of scripture. If we look at Hebrews chapter 9, we see a great description of how Christ's sacrifice on the cross is sufficient to pay (bear God's wrath and punishment) for the sins of all those who believe on Him from all time...and in this we see verse 27 stating, "And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment," (Hebrews 9:27).

Another good place to look is in Luke 16 in the story of the rich man and Lazarus. This is a great story where Christ tells us a lot what happens when people die. Namely, we see exactly what Christ said would happen to the righteous (heaven) and the unrighteous (hell)1, but the key I want to focus on is what the rich man request, and the answer that he is given.

The rich man died and went to hell and was in such agony that he couldn't stand it. He requested that Lazarus (the beggar who died and is in heaven) be sent to his (the rich man's) house to warn his family about the reality of the torment in hell. The answer was a big "no" for the reason that if people didn't believe what the Bible said about these things, then they wouldn't believe anyone or anything else. 2 But notice that Abraham doesn't console the rich man with something like saying, "Relax, this is only temporary because soon enough you will be reborn into the world of the flesh so that you can try again."

The final place that I'll look at (for now, anyway) is in 2 Samuel 12. Here we see David after he's been called out for adultery, murder, and a whole host of other things and the judgment upon him and his family (in part) is that the son born of the adultery will die. After the child dies, and his servants ask David why he's acting the way that he is now, he says, "But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me." (2 Samuel 12:23) The point of this is that David had the clear understanding that where his son is, David would one day go. Now, if reincarnation were to be a biblical concept, David would not be sure because he might miss his son because he'd be living again.

To close out my argument against reincarnation, the single most definitive spot to go is the first place that I cited, Hebrews 9 makes it overly and abundantly clear that we die once.

So now that reincarnation is understood to be a non-Christian idea, and an idea that is completely incompatible with Christianity, let me look at what Christ's rising looked like.

We see the following (to name a few):

  1. Jesus had (has) only one body both after His death when He was resurrected as well as before His death. This is evident by the fact the tomb was empty. (Matthew 28:1-15)3
  2. The Body that Jesus has is identifiably His. Skeptical Thomas was convinced by touching Jesus' scars. (John 20:24-31)
  3. It is physical, not immaterial. (John 20:24-31)
So, I would like to assert that the Bible clearly states that Christ was raised from the dead, and that this raising is nothing at all like the reincarnation of any mystic type religion, but it is completely different. It is interesting to note that the entire claim of the New Testament (and ultimately the entire Bible) rests on this one event in human history. If Christ did not raise from the dead, then the whole Christian faith is worthless, and we (Christians) are to be pitied (1 Cor 15:13-19). This is not a squishy or indefinite issue that we can gloss over in the discussion or defense of the faith. Above all other things - if this is not true - then everything in the Bible is useless.

I would also assert that the resurrection of Christ from the dead is as believable and true as is the fact that you are reading this at this point in time. There is a huge case (historically) that can be built to show that Christ did raise from the dead. I will summarize some of the powerful arguments for this fact....
  1. There was no presentation of the body of Christ by either the Romans or the Jewish leaders to stamp out the faith when it began. And because of that, no historical (and creditable) source can point to where Jesus is buried.
  2. There were 500 eyewitnesses (1 Cor 15:6) who testified to the risen Christ. What madman would testify to that if it were not true?
  3. The fact that the disciples went from cowering, hiding, and denial of Jesus to testifying, imprisonment, and martyrdom for this same Jesus. Is it plausible that these men were so blinded by idiocy that they chose to die for a dead man whom they disowned when He was alive?
...just to name a few.4

1 I know a lot can (and should) be said about heaven and hell and what the future "Lake of Fire" and "New Heaven and New Earth" are, and that is important, but that is not my purpose in this blog. Please, feel free (if you feel so inclined) to write about this either in a comment or as a mailed in post to the blog.

2 This is also very condemning of the people of that day and of our day. Because Jesus did basically what the rich man in the story wanted. Jesus died and then came back to life (resurrected), and by doing so not only does He have the eye witness account of heaven and hell in the afterlife (He knew this before his incarnation as well), but when He came back it showed positively that not even a dead man living again testifying of these things will convince those who disbelieve the Bible.

3 It is interesting to see that the "Jesus' body was stolen" theory was addressed in the Bible itself. Quick question: If this were actually true, that the Disciples stole the body, why would they have died for a lie that they knew to be true. Also, if it wasn't stolen, why wasn't it produced by the Jewish authorities who wanted, more than anything else, to disprove what Jesus taught and disband his followers.

4 Lee Strobel has written a couple of great books dealing with the skeptical questions surrounding Christianity (from the skeptic's view, I might add) and he does a fantastic job of asking the questions and getting the answers from smarter men than me. His books are called The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith.

Copyright © 2005-2010 Eric Johnson