The ultimate correctional facility

Reading Time: 3 minutes

What purpose does hell serve? If it is punishment for sinful actions, shouldn’t it be used for correctional purposes? Seeing as how you burn forever, you will never get out of hell to show that you have learned your lesson. Would it make sense to live a faithful Christian life glorifying the Lord and to accidentally sin by saying a curse word the instant you smash your car into the back of a tractor-trailer, thereby being condemned to burn in hell forever?

This completely misrepresents, or at the very least entirely misunderstands, the gift of salvation and forgiveness of sins offered within the Christian world view.

Christ’s sacrifice is not yanked out from under our feet, like a rug on a smooth hardwood floor, the first time we commit the smallest of sins. And where does it say we will burn forever in Scripture?

As Christians, we are to be Christ like to the best of our abilities, but since we are not perfect, we will never be able to live sinless lives. The whole reason Christ died for us is so we can be forgiven and have eternal life, despite imperfections. Sound too good to be true? Yes, it does sometimes.

Who among us does not want someone who wrongs us or others to pay for their deeds? Ever get cut off by a reckless speeding driver and then hope to see them pulled over a few minutes later? I do every time. If someone commits a murder for private, or selfish gain, and they are caught, we can and do expect them to be put behind bars for life, if they don’t receive the death penalty. We don’t expect that kind of person to be corrected in a correctional facility and then to be set free. We expect them to be punished for a very long time, possibly for the rest of their life for the murder committed.

What is so hard to understand that a perfect and holy God cannot abide by anything less than a perfect and loving character? We expect people to live up to our standards and abide by the laws that govern our society. When the laws are broken, or our own version of ‘what is fair’ and ‘right’ is upset, we righteously expect there to be a consequence for the wrong done to us or others.

If there is a perfect and holy God, and I believe there is, then why can’t He expect a consequence for wrongs done? Yet, unlike a murder committed in our world, those of us who commit murder can plead forgiveness and live an eternal life with our Creator.

In all other religions, we must work toward God and make efforts to bridge the gap that is between us and God. In Christianity, Jesus bridges the gap, because without him it is impossible for us to meet the conditions. Have you ever lied? Have you ever stolen? Have you ever use the Lord’s name in vain? In Matthew 5: 27-29 it says, “You have heard that it was said to those of old,‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Whoa! So if we just think about it, we are sinning? If you are a guy like me, good luck with that one! None of us can meet these conditions, any more than someone can run the mile in 10 seconds, or lift 10,000 pounds.

In the King James version of the Bible, the word hate is used a total of 87 times as opposed to the word love, which was used 310 times in both the Old and New Testament. The word hell is used 31 times in the Old Testament and 23 in the New Testament, again in the King James version. The word heaven is used 327 times in the Old Testament and 255 in the New Testament. I can’t help but think there is a bias slant portrayed by atheists and skeptics who focus on the punishment rather than on the forgiveness offered.

The fellow who posted the 50 Questions Christian’s can’t answer, (this is number 15) misses the point time and time again.

Christianity offers forgiveness that is everlasting, so we can live an eternal life with our God the Father. The world offers its version of forgiveness, but after you pay for the crime, and sometimes the payment is a life. Where have we heard that before?

 

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Hell – the ultimate correctional facility by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://www.dev.christianapologetics.blog/category/blog/.

 

Recognizing Greatness

Reading Time: 6 minutes

It was January 12th, 2007, on a cold winter morning in a Washington, D.C. Metro station. A man was actually playing a violin for the roughly 1000 people who walked by during rush hour. Hardly anyone noticed him. In fact, Gene Weingarten, who wrote the piece for the Washington Post said, “Three minutes went by before something happened. Sixty-three people had already passed when, finally, there was a breakthrough of sorts. A middle-age man altered his gait for a split second, turning his head to notice that there seemed to be some guy playing music. Yes, the man kept walking, but it was something.” 1

For his efforts, this man received $32 after 45 minutes, and this, after he tossed in some ‘seed’ money to get things started. Those that did give, hardly slowed their step to listen to him play, and many just tossed a quarter. Who was this man and why is it significant?

The man was Joshua Bell, who just a few days before played at the Boston theater to a sold out crowd with tickets that averaged $100. Bell began playing when he was a young boy, and was clearly a musical prodigy. The instrument he used in the metro station was his personal Stradivarius, said to be worth 3.5 million.

What would people do if they walked by a man who was arguably one of best violinists in the world, playing, not popular tunes today’s culture would recognize, but classic master pieces that have endured throughout the ages? Couple that with his multimillion dollar Stradivarius, and you can’t help but wonder if people, even in a New York metro station at rush hour, would stop to listen, or even recognize the talent and beauty of the music and musician.

This experiment was caught on tape using several hidden cameras. Weingarten wrote, “There was no ethnic or demographic pattern to distinguish the people who stayed to watch Bell, or the ones who gave money, from that vast majority who hurried on past, unheeding. Whites, blacks and Asians, young and old, men and women, were represented in all three groups. But the behavior of one demographic remained absolutely consistent. Every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch.” 2

Matthew 18:3 And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 11:25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.

Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

We go through life thinking we have gained so much knowledge. Some of us become quite learned with masters and doctorates to post on our wall and impress those around us, but for all we gain, the older we get there is a sense of loss.

Many adults, those middle-aged and beyond, can relate to the lost childhood, missing the wonder, excitement, and certainly the lack of responsibility. Even young adults who are working for the first time in their life, going to college, having to pay bills, can sit for a moment and reflect on a childhood that is now gone forever. But, is it really just freedom or the lack of responsibility we miss, or could there be something more? Are we viewing the world in a different way than little children, who, if the article above is pointing out something significant, see things we can’t or don’t any more?

Every week I work with students who look at things differently than I do; who ask questions I never thought of. Who are still impressed with the world around them, and things some people are able to do in life. My students see things, hear things, smell things, touch things that amaze them, but I don’t give it a second thought. They see the miracle that is imbedded in the world and our very existence, though they may not express it in those terms. They still see the wonder as to why things are the way they are, innately seeing the miracle in ‘something rather than nothing’.

Edith Nesbit, and English author and poet who wrote children books in the 1800’s said, “It is wonderful how quickly you get used to things, even the most astonishing.” Over time, even the miraculous can become mundane to us, because we forget what life is about, and focus on what is about our life.

Life can and does get in the way of our seeing that every morning. Flu’s, colds, bills to pay, disagreeable co-workers, a car breaking down, illness or loss in the family. “Our destiny may be eternal life at home with God, but we aren’t there yet. ‘So be truly glad!’ the apostle Peter said. ‘There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while’ (1 Peter 1:6). And Peter made it clear why God is keeping us here. He has a mission for us to accomplish.” 3

Joshua Bell has an amazing gift from God. This gift has gained him wealth and notoriety in certain circles. The gifts we have may apply only to a small circle of friends or family, or you may have a gift that will touch thousands, but what ever the gift is, it needs to be applied to our mission in life. Without a mission, without a purpose, without a plan, life has no meaning – just a moment in the geologic time scale. Our lives forgotten in a hundred years.

Viktor Frankl was a survivor of the Nazi death camps in World War II. He recognized and saw first hand the need for meaning in life, especially if you are to survive in difficult circumstances that result in long suffering. He wrote in his book, Man’s Search For Meaning, “As we said before, any attempt to restore a man’s inner strength in the camp had first to succeed in showing him some future goal.”4 Those who lost hope he explained, quickly perished, even the most hardy individuals. Only those who had a reason to live managed to survive.

In Romans 1:19-22 Paul wrote, “ since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.” Carl Gallups, author of The Magic Man In The Sky said, “The apostle Paul wrote this passage to the church at Ephesus, to help these early Christians discern that there is an eternal purpose to life. He wanted them to be certain of the Grand Scheme.” 5

I have no doubt as to one of my purposes in life, and that is to teach at the Jr. High level and impact the lives of my students in a positive, Godly way. Over the years, I have had many students who lacked parents at home or any kind of father figure. What eternal outcomes I may or may not have had on many, I will never know in this life time, but I do know that I have influenced a few. That, along with some family, friends, and possibly this blog are my mission, my purpose.

Recently a young mother began attending our church. My wife noticed this new face and made sure to greet her when she saw her again. After a couple of Sundays, my wife noticed her sitting alone and invited her to sit next to us. We could tell she was pleased by the invitation, and she began sitting with us in church. Naturally, we each shared a little about our lives and she mentioned her boyfriend of several years. I asked if he would ever come to church and she said probably not. I asked if he attends any church and she said no, church was not his thing. I could tell she was a bit uncomfortable with the direction of the conversation, so I just asked her directly if he believed in God, she said no. I laughed and said, “No wonder he doesn’t want to come to church!” She laughed with me and that seemed to break the ice.

Last Sunday, she announced to us her live in boyfriend of 5+ years asked her to marry him. She was very excited and we shared in her joy. We don’t expect to see her for a couple of Sundays because they are traveling to Las Vegas to be married and will be out of town. It was not hard to touch her life, to invite her into our circle, to share the gift of Christ’s unconditional love.

You may not be a Joshua Bell, but you have a gift, which with little effort can be shared and recognized by all who encounter you. I saw a quote that said, “Greatness is not in what you have, but what you give.”

 

Sources:
1. Weingarten, Gene. “Pearls Before Breakfast: Can one of the nation’s great musicians cut through the fog of a D.C. rush hour? Let’s find out.” Washington Post, 8 April 2007. Web. 9 February 2015
2. Ibid.
3. McDowell, Josh. McDowell, Sean. The Unshakeable Truth. Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2010. Print.
4. Frankl, Viktor E. Man’s Search For Meaning. Boston: Beacon Press, 1959. Print.
5. Gallups, Carl. The Magic Man In The Sky. New York: WND Books, 2012. Print.

 

 

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Recognizing Greatness by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://www.dev.christianapologetics.blog.

42 Questions Christian’s can’t answer

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Why can’t the all-powerful God forgive someone of their sins after they die? Example: A Christian man that is seemingly on God’s good list makes a stupid decision and decides to drink a little too much at the fish fry. On his way home he crashes into a mini-van killing a mother, her two children and himself. This man led a very faithful life and made one stupid, yet grave mistake. If this man did not ask for forgiveness of his sins before the electrical activity in his brain ceased, then God will judge him and send him to hell to burn for eternity.

I had read other blogs about Pucket who had asked the above question, and 50 others, and I had read he was a former Christian, who had a solid grasp of the Gospel. Frankly, this question shows a tremendous amount of ignorance concerning salvation and the good news of the Gospel, so it surprised me.

The New Testament is packed with scripture that gives us a view of salvation that is simply based on our acceptance of the gift Christ offers. Christ saves all those who believe in Him, and it is not conditional on our asking forgiveness on every single sin we commit. Not only is that unnecessary, but impossible.

The above illustration by Pucket can be carried to the extreme with another simple example. Say a Christian man who has lead a nearly sinless life was walking across the street carrying a gift and flowers for his wife of 30 years. Walking across in the opposite direction is a lovely young girl, in a short skirt, and top that shows off her nearly perfect figure. For a moment, this Christian man lets his thoughts wander into sin after they passed each other. Then, suddenly, a car that had been speeding ran the red light and instantly killed this man.

To suggest God would condemn this man to eternal separation from Him due to this one moment, before he could ask forgiveness, is silly. The verses of scripture that address this are numerous, so instead of constructing an argument, I will let scripture speak for itself. I have listed just list a few below.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 5:24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”

John 6:37 “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”

Acts 4:12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

Romans 1:16 “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”

2 Corinthians 5: 15-19 “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”

Titus 3:5-7 “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”

Acts 13:39 “Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.”

This question, and the scripture above, are a perfect lead in to asking, “Who then is going to heaven?” It is surprising how many think they are, due to their general, good behavior. The Pew Research center did a survey a few years ago asking how many Americans believed in a God or some kind of universal spirit, and over 90% responded positively. 1 Out of those respondents, 74% believe in heaven, but only 59% believe in hell. Pewpoll11

 

 

 

 

 

That suggests quite a few people have the notion that we are going to heaven no matter what kind of life we led.  In other words, some people believe that everyone will get a ‘get out of jail’ Monopoly card that will work in the afterlife, guaranteeing a seat in heaven.

Heaven33

 

Pewpoll22

 

Another figure that was worth mentioning was the percent of those who have a religion, felt that many religions can lead to eternal life. A shocking 70% feel that their way, (their own religion), is not the only way. Not surprising was the religions of Hinduism and Buddhism lead the way with 89% and 86% believing their religion is not the only way into heaven. 2 Not far down the list is the Evangelical believers, and 57% of them feel Jesus is not the only way to heaven.

With these kinds of figures, I would ask what is the point of Jesus? If we can just lead a relativity good life, where our generous actions and behaviors out weigh the selfish actions, and that would usher us into heaven, then why bother with the whole Jesus thing? Obviously, many Christians believe that. Where do they get that idea? Another Pew Research poll said, “Even among white evangelical Protestants, nearly three-quarters (72%) of those who say many religions can lead to eternal life name at least one non-Christian religion that can lead to salvation.” 3

Salvation is a gift. It is not something you can earn through good works or asking forgiveness each and every single time you sin. Salvation through Christ allows you to live a life free from condemnation, but with the realization that there was a price paid, because a just and righteous God demands it. This realization comes into play every day as we recognize it is impossible to live a perfect, sin free life. Ravi Zacharias said, “Jesus did not come into this world to make bad people good. He came into this world to make dead people live.” 4

When a person repents, accepts Christ as their Lord and Savior, their sins are forgiven, past, present, and future. This does not mean you go and sin all you want because of the get out of jail free card. God looks at the heart of a man, He knows their intent, their purpose. 1 Samuel 16:7. Gill’s Exposition puts it this way, “…though the heart is deceitful, it cannot deceive him, because he judges not according to outward appearance; he sees and knows the heart; and none but the Lord, or he who is Jehovah, can so search the heart as thus to know it.”

Mark Mittelberg told a story of a business man who was on an airplane sitting next to a pastor. Their conversation was polite and surface at first, but after a few minutes turned to more serious topics. The pastor was asking the man if he believed in heaven, and if so would he be allowed in. The business man felt he would because his good deeds surpassed his selfish deeds.

The pastor then gave the man an illustration on a napkin, by drawing a ladder that would reach up to heaven. Each rung on the ladder represented a spot for one person on earth. Up at the top is God, because He is perfect. Each person on earth would be placed on the ladder according to their good deeds. The higher up the ladder, the more good deeds a person did. The lower the part of the ladder were the Hitlers, child molesters, and mobsters.

The pastor brought up Mother Teresa, who has admitted she has sinned many times in her life, this, despite her being considered one of the most caring, giving, and ethical persons who ever lived. She would not consider herself even past ½ way up the ladder. The pastor then mentioned Billy Graham, who many in America consider to be an outstanding moral and ethical man, who has lead a long dedicated life serving the Lord. The pastor pointed out that Billy Graham would not consider himself above Mother Teresa, and has said he has sinned many times in his own life. The pastor then marked a spot for Billy Graham below Mother Teresa on the ladder, and both were below the ½ way mark.

He then asked the man where he would be on this ladder, who hesitantly wrote his name near the bottom below both Mother Teresa and Billy Graham. The pastor let that sink in for a minute as the business man contemplated his good deeds compared to those icons of honorable human behavior.

The pastor then asked the business man where he thinks the cut off point on the ladder would be for those who ‘get’ to go to heaven for their good deeds, and if he would be above it. The business man replied, “I guess I am screwed.” to which the pastor replied, “Well welcome to the club. We’re all in that kind of predicament. And here’s the real problem: do you think, if you got serious and tried to to do good for the rest of your life, you could ever hope to climb above Mother Teresa?” 5

The point is driven home in the above story. It is not about leading a good and moral life, but accepting the gift of salvation, and realizing it is a gift that everyone should be thankful for. The latter illustration works well because each and everyone of us can be placed on this ladder according to our deeds in this life. Everyday we walk by, talk to, work with, wake up next to someone who may be above us or below us on the ladder, but where we are placed on the ladder has nothing to do with being ushered into heaven.

laddertoheavenAccepting the gift of salvation that Christ offers, and realizing we can never reach the top of this ladder because of our own works is key. Our nature tells us to hang on tight to whichever rung of the ladder we are clinging to. We try not to get our fingers stepped on by the person above us, and at the same time try to mash the fingers of the person attempting to climb past us. If we are not careful we might slip down further, below those we were above moments before. All the while Jesus is telling us to let go, lean back, and fall into His arms, and he will then lift us, not only above the spot where we were on the ladder, but then, up and past those who were above us because of their good deeds.

It is that moment you fully realize no one on the ladder will ever make it into heaven, because you can’t climb into heaven, but only fly there, in the arms of Jesus.

Sources:

1. “Religious Beliefs and Practices.” Pew Forum. Pewforum.org, 1 June 2008. Web. 17 September 2014.
2. “Many Americans Say Other Faiths Can Led to Eternal Life”, Pew Forum. Pewforum.org, 18 December 2008. Web. 19 September 2014.
3. Ibid
4. “A Loving God Wouldn’t Send People To Hell” The Mumbling Christian. Mumblingchristian.com, 20 February 2009. Web. 20 September 2014
5. Mittelberg, Mark. The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask. Carol Stream: Tyndale House, 2010. Print

 

 

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42 Questions Christian’s can’t answer by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://www.dev.christianapologetics.blog/.

44 Questions Christian’s can’t answer

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Why do innocent children have to suffer with terminal diseases such as cancer? What part of ‘God’s plan’ is this exactly?

The question of evil and why there is suffering in this world is something we all struggle with, especially if you believe, (as I do), in an all knowing, and all powerful God. Romans 8:28 explains that everything works together for the good of those who love Him and are called by Him.

Well that sounds great, but to the unbeliever who has lost a parent, friend, or child to cancer it does little or nothing to comfort them. R. E. Pucket has a list of difficult questions you can find here, and this is number 6 on the list.

Some of the questions are legitimate, and others frankly seem silly, nevertheless I am working through them. The question of children suffering with painful and lengthy diseases such as cancer, and finally yielding to the illness, with a supposed purpose in mind, can be difficult for anyone to understand.

Mark Mittelberg said of Romans 8:28, “This is one of the most encouraging verses in the Bible – and also one of the most abused. First, it does not say that everything that happens is good. Rather, it acknowledges the reality that many things that happen in our lives are bad, but it assures us that God can use them for good or bring good out of them.” 1

Furthermore, God does not promise us an explanation for the suffering we see and experience. For those of us who are, or have been, parents of little children, we do the best we can to explain why they have to get a shot at the doctor. Yet despite our comforting and explanations, the tears still flow, and until they are older, much of the discomfort they experience at the hand of a doctor or dentist is beyond their understanding.

After hearing of the death of his wife, C.S. Lewis wrote, “The more we believe that God hurts only to heal, the less we can believe that there is any use in begging for tenderness. A cruel man might be bribed – might grow tired of his vile sport – might have a temporary fit of mercy, as an alcoholic have fits of sobriety. But suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting. If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before that operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless.” 2

Finally, Romans 8:28 does not promise that all the bad we experience will bring forth good, but only those, “who love God and are called according to his purpose” can share in that promise.

Mittelberg supplies us with a short list of some of the good that can come out of suffering.
1. God can use pain to deepen our character.
2. He can use pain to reshape us as his sons and daughters.
3. He can use pain to give us a more spiritual and eternal perspective.
4. He can use pain to protect us from ourselves.
5. He can use pain to grab our attention and teach or redirect us in ways that will be important.
6. He can use pain to lead us to himself. 3
7. He can use pain to demonstrate His sacrifice for us.

I added number seven to the list because, without suffering, we would have no idea or understanding of Christ’s suffering on the cross for our salvation. Too many nominal believers have this concept of God as someone who does not want us to suffer. Their view is more like that of humans and their pets, as if the purpose of our lives is to be happy, while God just feeds us and takes care of us, when our actual purpose in life is to know God.

William Lane Craig put it this way, “One reason that the problem of suffering seems so puzzling is that people naturally tend to assume that if God exists, then His purpose for human life is happiness in this life. God’s role is to provide a comfortable environment for his human pets.” 4 The purpose God has for us in this life is not limited to what we experience here on earth. How our experiences in this life affect the life we have beyond this is anyone’s guess, but for the Christian, it is a comforting thought that cannot be shared by an unbeliever.

Just dwelling on that should give us as believers a sobering perspective. I recall years ago an old Star War episode when Darth Vader had captured Han Solo. They tortured him for a period of time and then returned him to his room. Han Solo’s comment was, “They never even asked me any questions.” If they had wanted some information, he would have at least seen a purpose to his suffering.  Suffering for a purpose gives us all strength to endure, and those who see no purpose in suffering struggle in ways many of us cannot imagine.

Craig wrote, “The ‘health and wealth’ gospel and the gospel of positive thinking that are being proclaimed in various megachurches and denominations are false gospels…”5 He is right. Can you imagine preaching that message in the Middle East in the presence of ISIS or the Muslim brotherhood? It is a false gospel, as hollow and dry as an empty snail shell at the end of summer. The first moment of outside pressure will crush the thin shell of that lie. Craig went on to say, “If it won’t preach there, it isn’t the true gospel. We need to understand that God’s plan for human history may involve terrible suffering for us, whose point or reason we can’t expect to see. Our hope lies not in worldly happiness but in that day when God will wipe away every tear.” 6

Jeremy Begbie gave a lecture in the Veritas Forum at the University of Berkeley exactly one month after the 9/11 attack. He is a multimedia lecture-performer and actually specializes in the the interface between theology and music.

Begbie spoke about a time he was in a black South Africa township. He was told that just before the service a house around the corner had burned to the ground, the night before a teen who was a member of that church was hunted down and killed, and a week prior a tornado came through destroying homes and lives. The pastor began in prayer asking why these things were happening. Groans from the congregation could be heard with each question. When the prayer ended they began to sing. Begbie wrote, “They sang and they sang, song after song of praise – praise to a God who in Jesus had plunged into the very worst to give us a promise of an ending beyond all imagining. The singing gave that congregation a foretaste of the end. Christian hope isn’t about looking around at the state of things now and trying to imagine where it’s all going. It’s about breathing now the fresh air of that ending, tasting the spices and sipping the wine of the feast to come.” 7

 

Sources:
1. Mittelberg, Mark. The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask. Carol Stream: Tyndale House, 2010. Print
2. Craig, William L. Hard Questions Real Answers. Wheaton: Crossway, 2003. Print
3. Mittelberg, Mark. The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask. Carol Stream: Tyndale House, 2010. Print
4. Craig, William L. On Guard. Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2010. Print
5. Ibid.
6. Ibid.
7. Willard, Dallas. A Place For Truth. Downers Grove: IVP Books, 2010. Print

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44 Questions Christian’s can’t answer by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.dev.christianapologetics.blog.

God’s Not Dead

Reading Time: 5 minutes

The News Boys have a popular song titled God’s Not Dead, in response to the German Philosopher Nietzsche who proclaimed “God is dead.” Time magazine asked the question in 1966, “Is God Dead?” The article was written by John Elson, who passed away in 2009 and now has an answer to that question. This article and cover gave Time magazine its best sales in 20 years, and prompted a response that resulted in 3500 letters to the editor.

Is God Dead

Supposedly, over 300 interviews were conducted for this article, and Time had over 30 correspondents work on it. Mr. Elson wrote in his article, “Secularization, science, urbanization — all have made it comparatively easy for the modern man to ask where God is, and hard for the man of faith to give a convincing answer, even to himself.” 1

Now, nearly 50 years later, books such as The God Delusion, The End of Faith, Freedom Evolves, The God Argument, Why I Am Not a Christian, The Blind Watchmaker, and God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, can be found on book shelves all over America. Not only found, but many are best sellers on Amazon, and their authors enjoy hundreds of thousands of followers on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

On a recent podcast from Ravi Zacharias, he asked the following questions of atheists:

How does something come from nothing?
How does life come from non-life?
How does a non-moral beginning through an immoral process end up with moral reasoning? 2

Atheists don’t have answers for these questions. Even Richard Dawkins has admitted he does not have an answer as to how you can get life from non-life. Some of you may remember the experiment that took place in 1953 by Stanley Miller. This now discredited experiment, which supposedly created life from non-life in the lab, has inundated our high school text books for 50 years. In 2007, Miller, like Elson, has passed away and now has an answer to how you get life from non-life.

One of my favorite quotes is from Francis Crick, who is the co-finder of the human DNA strand. “Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved.” 3 His obvious predisposition toward evolution speaks for a large contingent in the scientific community. They are unwilling to pursue truth no matter the cost. Even conceding the slightest possibility that life could have emerged from something that can’t be tested empirically is out of the question.

Francis Crick also said, “To produce a really good biological theory one must try to see through the clutter produced by evolution to the basic mechanisms lying beneath them, realizing that they are likely to be overlaid by other, secondary mechanisms. What seems to physicists to be a hopelessly complicated process may have been what nature found simplest, because nature could only build on what was already there.” 4 This quote really gets to the heart of the matter. My question to him and others is, if nature could only build upon what was already there, then where did we get what was built upon?

He suggests that we started with some kind of structure and mechanism. Where did this structure and mechanism come from? He said himself it must have already been there. Who put it there? Have you ever considered where our universe came from? Why do we have a laws of gravity, laws of motion, and laws of thermodynamics? If you have laws, then there must be a law giver. These laws do not exist necessarily any more than our universe exists necessarily.

Some have suggested that earth has been ‘seeded’ from space aliens in the past and that is how life began on earth. In my opinion, these kinds of speculations require more imagination than some of the movies Hollywood has produced in recent years. Even if it were true that earth was seeded from aliens millions or billions of years ago, it just pushes back the question of who created the aliens? It is just another form of the common response some may ask when Christians say God created the universe. A skeptic may ask if God created the universe, then who created God. You may then ask who created the God that created God and on we go endlessly pushing back the question.

Darrel Falk, in his book, Coming To Peace With Science, used an analogy that may speak to some. If we could go back in time and observe Leonardo da Vinci painting the Mona Lisa, we could empirically prove why the paints are certain colors, why the paint sticks to the canvas and explain the chemistry involved. We could examine the brush strokes of the painter, the composition of the brushes, their dimensions and how they react to the paints and canvas. We could consider the temperature and humidity of the room and analyze how it would effect the paints, canvas, and drying time. 5 We spend untold billions of dollars every year investigation why things work the way they do when the real miracle is that we ‘can’ investigate how things work.

God created time when he created the universe. Along with time, he created these laws that we just take for granted. These laws not only aid us to explore his masterpiece, but allow us to get a glimpse of just how powerful he is. Gravity, for example, is a law we understand. We can even use calculations of expected outcomes to find other planets that we can’t see, but know they are there because of their gravitational effect on nearby planets within a solar system.

Physicists can only speculate on gravitons, (tiny massless particles that emanate gravitational fields), and how they tug on every piece of matter in the universe, but can’t find them. 6 Hard to imagine something that not only surrounds us, but is within us, and we have to answer to it every day of our lives when we stumble, drop a cup of coffee, or jump out of airplanes. Interesting. Surrounds us, within us, and we have to answer to it. Sounds suspiciously like God to me.

I am looking forward to this movie, God Is Not Dead, which is to be released in the Spring of 2014.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90PWFEeRApA
I have read several reviews that were grumbling about the atheists being put in a poor light. If this is true in the movie, it is not the spin I would have put on it, but after years of the ‘Christians’ being the Bible thumpers, intolerant, homophobe, prude, self righteous, bigoted, and abusive characters, I will not lose any sleep over it.

Maybe a few of us can go together, and while we are sitting there enjoying the movie in comfortable seats, we can not only appreciate the movie, but the miracle that our bag of popcorn is not floating away, spreading popcorn all over the theater along with sodas, candy, and patrons who can’t believe in a God that surrounds us, lives within us, and we answer to. Just like gravity.

Sources:

1. Grimes, William. “John T. Elson, Editor Who Asked ‘Is God Dead?”. New York Times. Nytimes.com, 17 September 2009. Web. 30 October 2013.
2. Zacharias, Ravi. East and West Part 1 of 2. Let My People Think, 2013. MP3.
3. Crick, Francis. Science Quotes by Francis Crick. Today in Science. Todayinsci.com, 1999. Web. 2 November 2013.
4. Ibid.
5. Falk, Darrel R. Coming To Peace With Science. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2004. Print.
6. Mosher, Dave. Greatest Mysteries: What Causes Gravity? Live Science. Livescience.com, 2007. Web. 2 November 2013.

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