Tony Breeden – Defending Christ’s Existence

There are some who say that Jesus Christ never lived or, at the very least, we can’t prove that He really ever lived. But of course He did, as we will demonstrate.

I call this one the Skeptic’s Lie. A true Skeptic believes that we really cannot know anything for sure. One is tempted to ask the Skeptic how we can really know that we cannot really know anything for sure; if it’s true that nothing can be known for certain, then we cannot be certain that the Skeptic is correct. If your head hurts about now, that’s OK. Only educated idiots take this one seriously. Since we’ve just demonstrated that such a position is self-refuting, we need not take skepticism itself very seriously, for skepticism is merely the defense of agnostics and others who would prefer to avoid the questions because they are certain they will not like the answers.

Nevertheless, whether we hold to skepticism or not, a man has a right to ask whether any person, place or event from history is verifiable. The clear implication of the Skeptic’s Lie is that if Jesus did not exist, the Resurrection is also a legend or lie. They suggest that we cannot prove whether Jesus really existed.

Now, it’s true that we can’t use the scientific method to prove Jesus existed. The scientific method deals with things that are observable, testable, repeatable and falsifiable. Since historical events are past, barring the invention of a time machine, we cannot directly observe them. Neither are past events repeated. So we can’t use the scientific method to prove Jesus existed any more than we can use it to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare or Abraham Lincoln ever existed!

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Jason Meyer – Think of Yourself Less

I joked with some people whether being asked to give this talk on pride is an example of typecasting. I am very qualified to speak on pride because I am so proud. I hate my pride, but what I take even more seriously is how God hates it so much more.

Pride is our greatest enemy because it makes God our enemy — an almighty opponent. “God opposes the proud” (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5). Why? What makes pride so singularly repulsive to God is the way that pride contends for supremacy with God himself. Pride is not one sin among many, but a sin in a class by itself. Other sins lead the sinner further from God, but pride is particularly heinous in that it attempts to elevate the sinner above God.

Pride is not just a sin, but a sinful mother — a sinful orientation that gives birth to more sins. For example, pride can lead to lying. You tell a lie because you are too proud to admit you were wrong or you did something wrong. But the problem is so much bigger. Pride doesn’t just tell lies; it is a lie.

Why? Pride is self-obsession; pride is preoccupation with ourselves. Therefore, it is a lie about reality. It says I am worth thinking about all the time. It is an orientation that wrongly assumes that everything revolves around us.

A Shape-Shifting Sin

Pride deserves to die, but it is hard to spot and even harder to kill. Pride is a slippery sin because it is a shape-shifter. Jonathan Edwards said pride is “the most hidden, secret, and deceitful of all sins.” Let me give you an example. Here is a conversation that I might have with myself after a meeting at church:

“That meeting went really well. I think the turning point might have been when I asked that question which no one had thought to ask before. Wait a minute! That was such a prideful thought. It sounds like I am taking credit for the meeting going well. I am such a prideful person. I hate my pride.”

Meanwhile three seconds later, “I fight pride pretty hard. I’m glad that I caught that initial prideful thought. I wonder if other people are as aware of their pride and fight it as hard as I do. Wait a minute! It just happened again. I am taking pride in my awareness of pride. O, deliver me from this body of death, Lord Jesus! Thank you God that you give us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Several Shapes of Pride

If pride is preoccupation with ourselves, then we cannot defeat pride by becoming preoccupied with how we are doing against pride. When we do, we play right into the hands of pride because we take a page out of pride’s playbook. Think about yourself more. Obsess more. Become preoccupied with how you are doing — how the fight is going.

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Dr. John MacArthur – Principles for Living to God’s Glory: Edification

How do we make decisions about issues and activities that are not clearly spelled out in Scripture? How do we develop criteria to make those kinds of decisions in a way that honors God and benefits us, causes the Body of Christ to grow, and makes the gospel believable and attractive to the unconverted?

When it comes to matters of Christian liberty and gray area decisions, it’s not about what we can get away with while causing minimum damage. We’re not looking for high-risk Christian living—to see how close we can get to the fire and not get burned. There are too many people who use their freedom to live on the edge yet hope to avoid disaster. That’s misguided thinking.

When confronted with choices in one of life’s gray areas, rather than asking how much we can get away with, we need to ask, Will this activity produce spiritual benefit?

In 1 Corinthians 10:23, Paul explained that “all things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.” Some people in the Corinthian congregation were exercising their Christian liberty without any regard for the spiritual good of others, or even their own good. Paul corrected that thinking by reminding them that unless something is spiritually profitable—unless it builds up a person spiritually—it’s not worth doing.

So based on Paul’s exhortation, believers should ask themselves, “Will doing this activity enhance my spiritual life and the spiritual lives of others? Will it cultivate godliness in me and in them? Will it build us up spiritually?” If not, then is it really a wise choice?

I’m not looking to invest my life in the things that don’t return a spiritual dividend. If it doesn’t promise to give me some positive spiritual benefit, then why would I engage in it? Will it assist my spiritual development? Does it cultivate godliness? All things are lawful if they’re not forbidden by God, but the world is filled with things that promise absolutely no real spiritual advantage.

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John Newton – The Doctrines of Election and Final Perseverance – Excerpts from a letter

…Permit me to remind you in the first place, of that important aphorism, John 3:27 (which by the by seems to speak strongly in favor of the doctrines in question) ” A man can receive nothing, unless it be given him from heaven.” If you should accede to my opinions upon my persuasion only, you would be little benefited by the exchange. The Lord alone can give us the true, vital, comfortable, and useful knowledge of his own truths…It is not therefore by noisy disputation, but by humble waiting upon God in prayer, and a careful perusal of his holy word, that we are to expect satisfactory, experimental, and efficacious knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus. I am persuaded that you are seeking in this way; If so, I am confident you shall not seek in vain. The Lord teaches effectually, though for the most part gradually. The path of the just is compared to the light , which is very faint at the early dawn, but shineth more and more to the perfect day.

If you sincerely seek the Lord’s direction by prayer, you will of course make use of his appointed means of information, and search the Scriptures. Give me leave to offer you the following advices, while you are reading and comparing spiritual things with spiritual. First, not to lay too great stress upon a few detached texts, but seek for that sense which is most agreeable to the general strain of the Scripture. The infallible word of God must, doubtless be consistent with itself. If it does not appear to us, the obscurity and seeming inconsistency must be charged to the remaining darkness and ignorance of our minds. As many locks whose wards differ, are opened with equal ease by one master key; so there is a certain comprehensive view of Scriptural truth, which opens hard places, solves objections, and happily reconciles , illustrates, and harmonizes many texts, which to those who have not this master-key,…appear little less than contradictory to each other. When you obtain this key, you will be sure you will have the right sense.

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Dr. D. A. Carson – The Biblical Gospel

THE BIBLICAL GOSPEL

The question of what the biblical gospel is must be especially important to ‘evangelicals’, whose very label includes the word ‘evangel’, the English transliteration of the Greek word for ‘gospel’ (euangelion). Historically, evangelicals have been concerned to preserve and promulgate the gospel. But precisely what is this gospel? All sides recognize that it is ‘good news’ in some sense. But what is the content of this good news?

Although it is worth saying something about the ‘gospel’ words in the NT, the issue cannot be answered by mere word studies. Some NT books, eg John’s Gospel, never use the word ‘gospel’, even though from a thematic perspective they obviously have as much ‘good news’ to tell as books that abound in the ‘gospel’ word-group. In the pages that follow, therefore, after some observations on the relevant words, I outline some of the broader considerations that
must be taken on board if we are to grasp what the biblical gospel is. And, finally, I outline the primacy of the gospel in all Christian thought and mission over against competitors and wouldbe usurpers.

Gospel words

In non-biblical sources before the NT period, euangelion customarily referred to the reward given a messenger who brought good news—of military victory, perhaps, or of escape from danger. By an obvious transfer, it came to refer to the good news itself. Modern discussions of ‘gospel’ commonly cite the enthronement inscription, dated 9 BC, from Priene in Asia Minor. In this inscription the birthday of the emperor Augustus is hailed as ‘the beginning of the joyful news (euangelia) for the world’. The noun occurs once in the LXX with the meaning ‘reward’ (2 Samuel 4:10), and five times referring to military ‘good news’ (2 Samuel 18:20, 22, 25, 27; 2 Kings 7:9). On the other hand, the cognate verb, euangelizomai (‘I announce or proclaim good news’, sometimes parallel to kēryssō, ‘I preach’, ‘I proclaim’) is found more frequently. But clearly it is the NT that repeatedly invests euangelion with the meaning ‘good news’, just as it is the NT that must establish what the good news is.

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Horatius Bonar – The Everlasting Righteousness

How may I, a sinner, draw near to Him in whom there is no sin, and look upon His face in peace?

This is the great question which, at some time or other, every one of us has asked. This is one of the awful problems which man in all ages has been attempting to solve. There is no evading it: he must face it.

That man’s answers to this question should have been altogether wide of the mark, is only what might have been expected; for he does not really understand the import of the question which he, with much earnestness perhaps, is putting, nor discern the malignant character of that evil which he yet feels to be a barrier between him and God.

That man’s many elaborate solutions of the problem which has perplexed the race since evil entered should have been unsatisfactory, is not wonderful, seeing his ideas of human guilt are so superficial; his thoughts of himself so high; his views of God so low.

But that, when God has interposed, as an interpreter, to answer the question and to solve the problem, man should be so slow to accept the divine solution as given in the word of God, betrays an amount of unteachableness and self-will which is difficult to comprehend. The preference which man has always shown for his own theories upon this point is unaccountable, save upon the supposition that he has but a poor discernment of the evil forces with which he professes to battle; a faint knowledge of the spiritual havoc which has been wrought in himself; a very vague perception of what law and righteousness are; a sorrowful ignorance of that Divine Being with whom, as lawgiver and judge, he knows that he has to do; and a low appreciation of eternal holiness and truth.

Man has always treated sin as a misfortune, not a crime; as disease, not guilt; as a case for the physician, not for the judge. Herein lies the essential faultiness of all mere human religions or theologies. They fail to acknowledge the judicial aspect of the question, as that on which the real answer must hinge; and to recognise the guilt or criminality of the evil-doer as that which must first be dealt with before any real answer, or approximation to an answer, can be given.
God is a Father; but He is no less a Judge. Shall the Judge give way to the Father, or the Father give way to the Judge?

God loves the sinner; but He hates the sin. Shall He sink His love to the sinner in His hatred of the sin, or His hatred of the sin in His love to the sinner?

God has sworn that He has no pleasure in the death of a sinner (Ezekiel 33:11); yet He has also sworn that the soul that sinneth, it shall die (Eze 18:4). Which of the two oaths shall be kept? Shall the one give way to the other? Can both be kept inviolate? Can a contradiction, apparently so direct, be reconciled? Which is the more unchangeable and irreversible, the vow of pity or the oath of justice?

Law and love must be reconciled, else the great question as to a sinner’s intercourse with the Holy One must remain unanswered. The one cannot give way to the other. Both must stand, else the pillars of the universe will be shaken.

The reconciliation man has often tried; for he has always had a glimpse of the difficulty. But he has failed; for his endeavors have always been in the direction of making law succumb to love.

The reconciliation God has accomplished; and, in the accomplishment, both law and love have triumphed. The one has not given way to the other. Each has kept its ground; nay, each has come from the conflict honored and glorified. Never has there been love like this love of God; so large, so lofty, so intense, so self-sacrificing. Never has law been so pure, so broad, so glorious, so inexorable.

There has been no compromise. Law and love have both had their full scope. Not one jot or tittle has been surrendered by either. They have been satisfied to the full; the one in all its severity, the other in all its tenderness. Love has never been more truly love, and law has never been more truly law, than in this conjunction of the two. It has been reconciliation, without compromise. God’s honour has been maintained, yet man’s interests have not been sacrificed. God has done it all; and He has done it effectually and irreversibly.

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Tim Chaffey – Parallelism in Hebrew Poetry Demonstrates a Major Error in the Hermeneutic of Many Old-Earth Creationists

Introduction

Poetry is a highly stylized form of writing used by many cultures, each having their own unique methods of conveying information. Americans and other Westerners are familiar with poetry based on rhyme and meter. For the ancient Hebrews, poetry was typically not based on rhyme, but on a concept known as parallelism.

The nature of Hebrew poetry was recognized in the 12th century by Ibn Ezra and by Kimchi in the 13th century, but it was more clearly defined by Robert Lowth in 1753 (Unger 1951, p. 282). This style is marked by a focus on the arrangement of concepts rather than arranging words in a rhyming pattern. Lowth listed three primary types of parallelism: synonymous, antithetic, and synthetic (Lucas 2003, pp. 67–68). These are sometimes called similar thoughts, contrasting thoughts, and additional thoughts, respectively (McQuilkin 1992, p. 205). This paper will define these types of parallelism, give examples of each type found in the poetic books of Scripture, and examine the importance of parallelism.

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Michael Boling – Reflections on 1 Samuel 18-20; Psalm 11, 59

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1 Samuel 18-20; Psalm 11, 59

Jonathan and David made a covenant with one another with Jonathan taking his robe, armor, sword, bow, and belt and giving them to David as a sign of their covenant. Saul placed David over the men of war.

As a result of the slaughter of the Philistines, the people chanted that Saul had slain his thousands and David his ten thousands. This displeased Saul and caused him to become jealous of David.
One particular day, a distressing spirit sent from God came upon Saul and he threw his spear at David; however David escaped. Since Saul was fearful of David, he sent David out from his presence and made him a captain over a thousand men.

David acted wisely in all his ways and God blessed him. This caused further distrust of David by Saul. Trying to be crafty, Saul gave the hand of his daughter Merab to David. When it became time for her to be given to David, she was given instead to Adriel. Another daughter of Saul, Michal, loved David. Word came to Saul of her love for David and it pleased Saul and she was given in marriage to David.

After a bit of attempted manipulation on the part of Saul, David went out and killed 200 Philistines, bringing back their foreskins to Saul. Seeing this act, Saul knew God was with David and that his daughter loved David. This just made Saul all the more fearful and angry.

Saul told Jonathan and his servants that they should kill David. Loving David as a brother, Jonathan told David of his father’s plans to kill him. Jonathan spoke to his father Saul in an effort to convince him to not kill David because he had done nothing against Saul. The advice of Jonathan was heeded by Saul and Saul agreed not to kill David.

War brewed again between Israel and the Philistines and David went out and defeated them.

The distressing spirit was sent again by God upon Saul and he sought to pin David against the wall with his spear yet again. As before, David escaped. Saul sent messengers to try and kill David in the night. Michal let David out through the window so he could escape, placing an image in her bed to appear as David. She told Saul’s messengers that David was sick in bed. Saul told his messengers to bring David to him so that he may kill David. What they brought to Saul was the image covered in goat’s hair.

David fled to Ramah and Saul sent messengers to capture him. They encountered a group of prophets to include Samuel and Saul’s messengers began to prophesy. Saul sent other messengers and the same thing happened. Saul sent a third group with the same thing happening again.

Saul himself went out after David and when he came to Ramah, the Spirit of God came upon Saul and he prophesied, laying down naked all day and night.

David sent word to Jonathan, asking what he had done to anger Saul. Jonathan promised David he would not die and they worked out a series of signals so David would know if it was safe to enter Saul’s presence. David hid in the field and Saul asked Jonathan why David was not present at dinner. Jonathan told his father that David had asked permission to go to Bethlehem. This angered Saul and he cast his spear at Jonathan in an attempt to kill his own son. Knowing it was not safe for David to come back, Jonathan shot an arrow into the field signifying to David he should flee. David and Jonathan wept together and David departed and Jonathan returned to his father.

Psalm 11 reflects this period in David’s life, one that was spent on the run from King Saul. In this Psalm, David notes how he is being pursued by the wicked. He also notes how the righteous can trust in God and the reality that God will rain down judgment upon the wicked for He is righteous and He loves righteousness and He will uphold the upright.

Psalm 59 also reveals what David was experiencing as Saul continually sought to take David’s life. This is a prayer to God for deliverance from the hand of the wicked, in this case from the hand of Saul and his messengers. As with Psalm 11, David notes God will judge the wicked and will laugh at those who seek to lie in wait for the righteous. God is the defense of the righteous and He will consume the wicked in His wrath.

Callie Joubert – Can Theistic Evolutionism Explain the Origin of Morality?: A Young-Earth Creationist Response

If we accept that morality and ethics are about good and evil, right and wrong, and the truth and falsehood of moral beliefs (Holmes 1984), then it is only consistent with being a biblical Christian to exhibit thought and modes of moral reasoning that are consonant with God’s nature and revelation in Scripture. However, many people today who refer to themselves as Christians exhibit thought and modes of moral reasoning that are consonant with secular science. Or, to put it differently, their goal is to provide an understanding of the origins of life, man, and morality that could be acceptable to the naturalistically oriented mind. These Christians are generally known as theistic evolutionists.

Whereas some theistic evolutionists prefer to describe themselves as “evolutionary creationists” or “Christian evolutionists” (Lamoureux 2010), others prefer to call their position “BioLogos” (Collins 2007, pp. 201–203; Giberson and Collins 2011). In recent years theistic evolutionists produced a growing body of literature in which they advance arguments in support of their belief that “evolution, properly understood, best describes God’s work of creation” (Giberson and Collins 2011, p. 251; cf. Brannan 2007, 2011; Jarvis 2007; Lamoureux 2008, 2009, 2010; Miller 1982, 1993; G. Murphy 2006; Pope 2007; Van Till 1998, 1999, pp. 161–218; Wacome 1997). Let us look at their statement from the perspective of what it implies and what theistic evolutionists consider as main obstacles to a proper understanding of evolution.

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Paul Maxwell – Put Laziness to Rest

full_put-laziness-to-rest God often has a backwards way of dealing with brokenness in our world. Conquering, but not by the sword (Matthew 26:52). Defeating death with death (Hebrews 2:14). Preaching parables to bad listeners (Matthew 13:13). Fighting laziness with rest. Because of the complexity of laziness, we need to pay close attention to the ways God addresses our complacency.

To shout at men, “Get to work!” ironically reinforces a dysfunctional cycle of both work and rest. It fails to say what really needs to be said. It isn’t all that hard to see why God punishes his people by making them “forget festival and Sabbath” (Lamentations 2:6). Let me speak for ancient Israel and male millennials: bad resters make bad workers. Lazy men need a new theology of rest.

1. Rest from stubborn foolishness.

“‘Ah, stubborn children,’ declares the Lord, ‘who carry out a plan, but not mine’” (Isaiah 30:1). Even the lazy make plans. The grace God gives his children is in knowing the difference between the plan of the fool (Proverbs 3:29) and the plan of the wise. Those who plan well have joy (Proverbs 12:20).

With the Sabbath, God tells us to stop winging it and hoping for the best. Hope through planning. Faith and intentionality are not at odds for us. Stop all of the busy work, and carry out the Sabbath task of getting your own heart and life in order. Yes, planning itself takes time and energy. Halt as many activities as possible. But don’t stop and collapse into mindless inactivity. That’s a cycle of laziness — fake, shallow rest — not rest. Cease your vain labors so that you can truly work, and work well. Stop, so that you can reorient your rhythm from foolishness to wisdom, so that you can see and cease ineffective cycles of work and rest.

2. Rest from self-indulgence.

Laziness is an intoxication with some false god — pleasure, escape, comfort, self, or others. “How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you” (1 Samuel 1:14) “that you may know that I am the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 29:6). Wine stands for the horde of idols clamoring at the gate of the human heart — every human heart (Jeremiah 17:9). Laziness prizes many things, but gains nothing. The sluggard fails to fulfill his responsibilities. He “does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing” (Proverbs 20:4).

There is great freedom in having our eyes opened — in realizing that when we are lazy, our sedentary state is not innocent. Someone or something is always pulling the chain around our neck: “Stop.” “Act.” “Indulge.” “Submit.” “Whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved” (2 Peter 2:19). Laziness is not the reclusive passivity it pretends to be. It is active obedience to someone, to something other than Jesus Christ. The Lord of the Sabbath offers us freedom from that: “Sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14).

3. Rest from trying to be God.

Sabbath rest is not some mystical form of sustainable energy — a cosmic timeout that takes the edge off of life’s anxiety. No, Sabbath is rest in God. It is the practice of dependence. When you don’t have to be God, you don’t have to be in control of everything. Life’s pressures are put in a much broader context than me — my needs, my ability, my fears. What seems like an impossible situation for you is a walk in the park for the sovereign one working all things for your good (Isaiah 28:2; Romans 8:28).

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