Faith & Self Defense

Building Confidence Through Evidence

Archive for the tag “Truth vs. Error”

Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 22)

Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. Then they said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.’ They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. And they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” Genesis 11:1-4

Church ApologeticsIt was not long after the Flood that the families of Noah and his sons decided to leave the mountains of Ararat (Genesis 8:4) and travel to a plain in the land of Shinar (present day Iraq). There they began building a city and a tower “whose top is in the heavens.” They wanted to make a name for themselves, “lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

This action was in direct disobedience to God’s commandment that they “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1). Why would the families of Noah and his sons do that?

Something happened to the hearts and minds of these people that led them toward a new worldview; one that would have devastating effects on the human race to this day.

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Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 15)

Church ApologeticsQuestion: In the Garden of Eden, was God truthful with Adam? “… but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:17) We find the answer in Genesis 5:5 – So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years; and he died.” God told Adam the “truth.”

What about Satan? Did he tell Eve the truth? “… Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die.” (Genesis 3:4) 

That would appear to be a violation of the Law (Principle) of Non-Contradiction: something cannot be both true and not true at the same time in the same sense or context. Humans could not “die” and “not die” in the same sense or context. Either humans do die or they don’t die. We know from centuries of human experience that humans do die.

(**Take note of the fact that Satan is willing to contradict logic and reason to get what he wants. As Jesus said about the devil – “When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” (John 8:44)) 

These details from the beginning of the human race go to the heart of Evangelistic Apologetics – Truth. The attack on the Church concerns Truth.

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Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 13)

Church ApologeticsThe human race faces seemingly insurmountable problems. More than seven billion of us on the earth and we can’t climb out of the mess we’ve made. Politics doesn’t work, religion doesn’t work, sending good vibes around the planet doesn’t work. We treat each other with little to no respect and care even less.

The first step in solving a problem is identifying the problem. Step two is controlling the problem. Another way of understanding the process is the management phrase – “Name It and Tame It.”

Identifying the problem includes knowing what it is, where it came from, how it works and where it’s going. Controlling the problem includes “knowing, reasoning, choosing and behaving.”

Let’s use those management techniques in identifying and controlling Satan’s attack on the human race.

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Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 11)

Church ApologeticsSatan desperately wants to be “like” God. He wants worship, praise and adoration from other angels, human beings and all creation.  That desperation drives him in a way humans cannot understand.

We’ve seen desperate people who will do anything to get what they want, but they are not supernatural beings with the mind and power of an angel. Satan is very old and has learned a great deal through the ages about how to wage spiritual war against God’s people. He is also very experienced in spiritual battles.

One of our biggest mistakes as members of the Church is underestimating Satan’s power and cunning. If you think I’m wrong about that, read Revelation chapters 12 and 13. Satan wants worship from the whole earth and he will get it, though for only a short time.

One of the best things we can do to prepare ourselves for spiritual battle with Satan and his forces (Ephesians 6:10-18) is to learn everything we can about him from the One who knows Satan best. God has given the Church a lot of information and insight into how Satan thinks, plans and works. For instance …

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Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 10)

Church ApologeticsHere’s an understatement - “the Bible is a very interesting Book.”

If you believe there is a God and that the Bible is God’s special Revelation to humanity (which I do), then you will find what He reveals about “the” attack on Christ’s Church to be not only interesting but also extremely important. I say “the” attack because there is really only one on Christ’s Church – Satan’s. It’s been that way from the beginning and will continue to be that way until the end.

Paul wrote concerning Satan in 2 Corinthians 2 that “we are not ignorant of his devices” (vs 11). He made that statement in the context of sexual immorality in the Corinthian church “as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife” (1 Corinthians 5:1). This sin committed by a member of the Corinthian church was bad enough, but it gets worse. “And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:2). Church leaders and members knew about this terrible sin and were “puffed up” about it! Instead of mourning over this terrible sin and correctly disciplining the man, they were “puffed up” (pephusiomenoi – to puff up, blow up, inflate, swelled … the word was used to describe someone swelled with pride).

It’s important that we as Christians and defenders of the faith learn the lesson Paul taught the Corinthians because it demonstrates how Satan works in the Church. We must not be ignorant of his devices.

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Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 9)

Church ApologeticsPaul said something very interesting in 2 Corinthians 2 that pertains to our topic. He was writing in the context of loving and forgiving a brother in Christ.

“For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.” 2 Corinthians 2:10-11

Paul made two important points about Satan:

  1. Satan can take advantage of Christians
  2. We are not ignorant of Satan’s devices

Paul was not ignorant of Satan’s devices, but unfortunately the vast majority of Christians today “are ignorant.” We’ve already seen that the majority of Christians in the United States do not believe Satan is a living being. That statistic shows just how ignorant Christians are of Satan’s devices because one of his primary devices is to get Christians to believe he’s not real.

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Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 8)

Church ApologeticsThe stage is set, the battle ready, the players on the field, the stakes high – very high. God created, Satan attacked, humanity failed, God loved and sent, Jesus came and died, believers saved and sealed.

This thing we call “Church” is real. Jesus Christ is building His Church, so it’s very real. And what does Satan do now? He doesn’t stop, he attacks again and again. Satan is relentless. Why? Why would a defeated foe keep attacking? Because he knows what’s coming.

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Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 7)

Church ApologeticsI write about Satan as if he’s a real spiritual being. All Christians believe that – right?

What if I told you that more than half of Christians in the United States “strongly agree” or “agree somewhat” that Satan is not a living being but is a symbol of evil? That’s based on a Barna Group study from 2009. Here are the results based on a nationwide survey of adults’ spiritual beliefs (1,871 self-described Christians were surveyed).

40% – strongly agreed that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil”

19% – agreed somewhat that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil”

10% – disagreed somewhat that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil”

26% – disagreed strongly that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil”

8% – not sure what they believed about the existence of Satan

That means less than one-third of Christians strongly believe in the existence of Satan.

So, how does that compare with what the rest of the country thinks about Satan? According to a 2007 Gallup Poll, 70% of Americans believe in the devil, while only 21% don’t believe in Satan and 8% are not sure. That’s up dramatically from 1996 when only 56% of Americans said they believed in the devil.

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Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 6)

Church ApologeticsIt’s important to our understanding of why the Church is under attack to understand the “tension” between God and Satan. We saw it first in the Garden of Eden when God said this to the Satan-possessed serpent:

“Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life. And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:14-15

Satan is a defeated foe, cursed by God, but that does not mean the devil is not active and powerful in this world. Fortunately, we know what Satan does, how he does it and why he does it.

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Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 5)

Church Apologetics

I’ve spent most of my life as a professional journalist, which has afforded me a fascinating opportunity to see not only what people do, but why they do what they do.

If you watch or read the news on a regular basis, you’re familiar with how bad things are in the world. Newscasters move from one negative story to another – economic decline, joblessness, poverty, crime, war, terrorism, lying, cheating, stealing. You may have said it out loud – “the world is a mess!”

After covering news stories for 40 years, I want you to know that I agree with you. The world is a mess. However, the world’s problems didn’t begin with my generation or yours. My grandparents were born in the 19th century and they told stories about what a mess the world was back then. They survived tough economic times, crimes and wars. Their grandparents were born in the 18th century and their world was a mess.

The point is that the world has been a mess for thousands of years. As far back as we can look in history we’ll find people living in a messed-up world. Guess how long it took to mess up the world? Less than a minute!

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Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 4)

Church Apologetics

“Nearly 1,000 Christians have been killed and over 450,000 of them displaced in Syria due to the crisis plaguing the country.” (News Headline)

“Pakistan church bomb: Christians mourn 85 killed in Peshawar suicide attack. Pakistan’s worst-ever attack on beleaguered Christians prompts warning by bishop for future of minority in Muslim countries.” (News Headline)

“The more atheists who come out of the closet and admit publicly what they stand for, the more difficult it will be for the fanatically religious to impose their bronze-aged morality upon the rest of us.” (Atheist organization website)

“We are so sick of hearing those ignorant and self-righteous Christians complain about the problems in our society.  Boo stinkin’ hoo.” (Atheist blog)

“Christians are a hateful, mean and nasty bunch of losers.” (Facebook comment)

Why is the Church under physical and verbal attack around the world today? What or who is behind the attacks? Before you name someone or some group, think about an important insight the Apostle Paul gave us.

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Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack (Part 2)

Church Apologetics

We come to the question – Why? Why is the Christian Church here in the United States and around the world under such severe attack today? What did we do to make so many people so angry?

Two-thousand years ago this month, Jesus was a teenager in the little town of Nazareth. He was obedient to His earthly parents and “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:51-52).

Jesus was well aware during His teen years about why He was on earth. He went to the Temple in Jerusalem when He was 12 years old to talk with the teachers who were there. Mary, Jesus’ mother, asked Him why He had gone to the Temple instead of going home with her. He said to her – “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?’ But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them” (Luke 2:49-50).

That was an interesting statement for many reasons, one being that Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, was standing with Mary in the Temple. Joseph was a carpenter. So, what was the “Father’s business” Jesus mentioned?

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Convince Me There’s A God – Archaeology 7

Royal Standard of UrThe Hebrew Bible records the history of the world in some detail, but the history of Israel in great detail. Rather than a book of myth and legend, the Hebrew Bible was written as an historical narrative of a people and their God. That means their existence, both people and God, can be investigated according to historical detail.

When I was looking into the claims of Christianity in 1971, I found archaeological discoveries in Palestine of great interest in supporting the historicity of biblical writings. The nation of Israel, beginning with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, interacted with many other tribes, city-states and nations. We’ve already looked at some of the ancient finds from ancient Babylon, Assyria, Philistia and Moab. We turn now to Egypt.

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Evangelistic Apologetics – The Church Under Attack

Church ApologeticsThe Church of Jesus Christ is under attack. While that shouldn’t surprise any Christian, the method for responding to the attack does surprise many. We’ll call it “evangelistic apologetics.”

One evidence that most Christians don’t know what apologetics means comes from the question I often hear from them – “why would you want to apologize for being a Christian?”

Some pastors I’ve talked with through the years about emphasizing apologetics in their church (especially with children, teens and young adults) either chuckle, roll their eyes or get upset with me at some point in our discussion. They tell me that apologetics should not take the place of evangelism. It’s unfortunate they see apologetics that way because biblical apologetics is evangelistic – thus the name of this series of studies.

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Paul – Apostle or Fraud (Part 16)

Saint PaulThe Apostle Paul is a spiritual lightning rod. His calling and ministry were so different from the men who Jesus Christ called to be apostles before His death and resurrection that many people think Paul was a fraud.

I hear from those people on a regular basis. Some write just to tell me Paul was a fraud. Others ask questions to try to convince me Paul was a fraud. As I bring this special series to a close, we’re looking at the questions we’ve received during the past year to see if we can get to the truth of this important question.

I’m often asked why I “defend” Paul and not Christ. I wonder if they’ve read other posts on this blog and the GraceLife Blog. It should be obvious that my primary defense is for the existence of the God of the Bible and for the Life and Ministry of His Son, Jesus Christ. I defend anything Jesus did and what He did was call Paul to be an apostle to the Gentiles. I also defend what God said and what He inspired men to write as communication of His Word. Paul wrote almost half of the New Testament. Defending God’s call of Paul as apostle to the Gentiles is also defending God’s Word. That’s why I “defend” Paul.

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Is “Faith” Worth Believing?

Faith in StoneAtheist philosopher Peter Boghossian believes that faith is pretending to know things you don’t know (May 6, 2012 public lecture – richarddawkins.net/). As a former atheist, I find that statement both challenging and strange. Let me explain why.

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Paul – Apostle or Fraud (Part 14)

Saint PaulWe continue with questions from people who believe Paul was a fraud and not a true apostle of Jesus Christ. What’s at stake is almost half of the New Testament.

Question

  • If eating meat sacrificed to idols is okay as long as your “weaker brother” is not around as described in 1st Corinthians 8, then why is this practice later described as being hated by Jesus as the “doctrine of Balaam” in Revelation 2:14? Why does Rev 2:20 condemn it when Paul says it’s okay if nobody knows about it?

Answer

Let’s look at each reference you mentioned.

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Paul – Apostle or Fraud (Part 13)

Saint PaulThe question is not frivolous or trivial: was Paul an Apostle of Jesus Christ or a fraud? We’ve seen from the history of the early Church in Luke’s second letter to Theophilus (known to us as the Book of Acts) that Jesus Christ personally called Paul to be an apostle (Acts 9) and that the Holy Spirit called Paul to open the door of faith to the Gentiles (Acts 13).

About half of the Book of Acts references Paul’s ministry to Jews and Gentiles, and Paul wrote almost half of the New Testament. However, even with that overwhelming evidence, many people still refuse to believe that Paul was an apostle and go as far as to call him a fraud. In calling Paul a fraud they also call his writings fraudulent, which is a major issue for Christians. Most of the Paul-challengers I’ve heard from also believe 2 Peter is fraudulent, partially because the letter supports Paul’s apostleship and his authorship of Scripture.

If Paul is fraudulent, then what do we make of the writings of one of Paul’s most famous students, Luke? Can Luke be trusted if his mentor is a fraud?

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Convince Me There’s A God – Archaeology 4

As any good atheist would have done more than 40 years ago, I ridiculed the history of Israel as recorded in the Old Testament of the Bible. How could anyone believe what the Jews wrote about their national history when they were just trying to promote their own brand of “religion?” Why should I believe them?

Taylor PrismThe problem with that line of thinking, I discovered, was what to do about the histories of other ancient nations that gave credibility to many of the historical records in the Old Testament? Were the historians of other countries who served other gods somehow joined in the Jewish conspiracy to promote the one God of Israel? That didn’t seem logical to me, so I looked deeper into several archaeological discoveries to see if I could find the truth. Could archaeology have the answer to my challenge to “Convince me there’s a God?”

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Paul – Apostle or Fraud (Part 12)

Saint PaulWe are answering questions from people who believe Paul was a liar and a fraud. These people say they believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, so the questions go beyond the usual opposition we receive from Muslims, Jews and others about Paul’s apostleship. The questioners claim to love Christ and His Word, but deny half of the New Testament. That is a concern when we see in Acts that Jesus personally chose Paul for a special ministry to the Gentile world (Acts 9) and that the Holy Spirit chose Paul to open the door of faith to the Gentiles (Acts 13 – 14).

Because half of the New Testament is in question, we are addressing the questions we’ve received in recent months in the hope this will help the people who sent them and others who are not open to hearing from God in Paul’s letters. (Many of the people who do not accept Paul’s letters as Scripture also do not accept 2 Peter and other Books of the New Testament as Scripture.)

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