Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Defend your Faith

1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;

Recently my daughter was given an assignment by one of her teachers to interview someone from another religious perspective, preferably a cult member. Now that would be a difficult task. I was pleasantly pleased to discover that not only was she able to find a good candidate, a Jehovah’s Witness, but was able to have a good dialogue as well.

After “debriefing” her I discovered that she felt that she was fairly solid on her theology, but felt that she could have been better prepared to defend some of her positions from the Bible.
Typically a cult member is well versed in a limited number of doctrines and have their skills honed to defend a particular stance. Many orthodox Christians have a general knowledge of Scripture and orthodox theology, but are not experienced in defending their position.

According to the Apostle Peter’s admonition, the Christian should be prepared to give a credible argument for his faith. A follower of Jesus Christ should know what, why, and how to defend his belief.

It is true that the Bible is a large volume and theology is a massive subject. It is unrealistic to ask the average layperson to be a master of this subject. In my own experience I have an advanced seminary degree in theology, yet I am ever learning. My grasp of theology is not much more than a thimble full of the ocean of its depth. So can we really expect more from the “non professional” Bible student?
Yes and no. Most people will not be able to defend every doctrine, but they should be able to defend some doctrines. At the very least one should be able to explain from Scripture the gospel, the person and nature of Christ, the nature of God, and the nature of man.

Let me give you a challenge.

Can you give a concise explanation of the gospel using the Scriptures?
Can you explain who Christ is including His divinity and humanity from the Bible?
Can you describe the nature of God and man from the Word of God?

If you can perhaps you are better prepared to heed the Apostle Peter’s admonition. If you are not perhaps you may want to take some extra time ‘cracking open the Book.”

2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Satan Bound?

Revelation 20:1-3 (NKJV)
1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; 3 and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.

Sunday April 19, 2009 I will be preaching on the first few verses from Revelation 20. This chapter is one of the more controversial passages in Revelation. It refers to the Millennium. One of the reasons I hold to a premillennial view is because what is described here in context is the binding of Satan. An angel is said to take the Devil put him in the bottomless pit (always a temporary holding place in Scripture) shut him up, and put a seal on him. The purpose is so that he would no longer deceive the nations. Both postmillennialists and amillennialists believe that Satan is bound now. Both experience and Scripture indicate that his influence is not hindered in this age.

Matthew Waymeyer in his book Revelation 20 and the Millennial Debate highlights 23 passages that are clear indicators that Satan is alive and well in this age. This is another indicator that the millennium will occur in the future.
Activity of Satan in the Present Age

1. He entered Judas and influenced him to betray Christ (Luke 22:3, John 13:27)
2. He sought to sift Peter like wheat (Luke 22:31)
3. He filled the heart of Ananias and influenced him to lie to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3)
4. He sent a messenger to buffet the Apostle Paul (2 Cor 12:7)
5. He thwarted Paul from traveling to Thessalonica (1Thess 2:18)
6. He snatches the Word of God from unbelieving hearers of the gospel before it can take root (Matt 13:19, Luke 8:12)
7. He tells lies (John 8:44)
8. He has unbelievers under his dominion (Acts 26:18)
9. He tempts believers (1 Cor 7:5)
10. He seeks to take advantage of believers (2 Cor 2:11)
11. He is called the god of this world (2 Cor 4:4)
12. He blinds the minds of the unbelieving (2 Cor 4:4)
13. He seeks to deceive believers as he did with Eve (2 Cor 11:3)
14. He disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14)
15. He is at work in unbelievers to influence them to live as they do (Eph 2:2)
16. He seeks to deceive believers as the battles against them (Eph 6:11-12)
17. He deceives and traps unbelievers (2 Tim 2:26)
18. He holds unbelievers captive to do his will (2 Tim 2:26)
19. He prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8)
20. He is the father of those who practice sin (1 John 3:8-10)
21. He holds unbelievers in his power (1 John 5:19)
22. He is called the one who deceives the whole world (Rev 12:9)
23. He will deceive those who dwell upon the earth (Rev 13:14; 18:23; 19:20)

John Walvoord comments:

"If one accepts these Scriptures as testifying to the fact that Satan has power to tempt, to deceive to blind, to buffet, to hinder, to work signs and lying wonders, and who is free like a raging lion to walk about seeking whom he may devour, how then can one hold that Satan is now bound?"

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Glory of God's Creation in the Dolphin Stampede

" The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, And rejoices like a strong man to run its race. Its rising is from one end of heaven, And its circuit to the other end; And there is nothing hidden from its heat." (Psalm 19:1-6, NKJV)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Resurrection Sunday

Easter Sunday or as I like to call it “Resurrection Sunday” is one of my favorite days on the church calendar. No it is not because of the candy or the traditional Easter Sunday lunch with my family…well wait a minute…okay no it is not those things. It is because this is the most important event that has ever occurred in the world up to this point. It is even greater than Christmas (the first Advent) because without the Resurrection Christianity is meaningless.

"And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable." (1 Corinthians 15:17-19, NKJV)

Well, Christ did rise again, in fact it is one of the most verifiable facts of history. This season the television will be peppered with shows challenging the veracity of Jesus’ resurrection. Normally scholars who challenge these facts do not provide enough facts. In other words they deal with a limited aspect of this event and fail to solve all the myriad of questions that are left unanswered by their solution. The only explanation that answers all the questions is the Resurrection.

One of my seminary professors, Gary Habermas, provided us with a list of critically recognized resurrection facts of which nearly 90% of the skeptics that deny the bodily resurrection agree. Now they all do not agree on all the facts. Some will agree with six or seven another set of scholars will agree on four or five different. You get the picture. In the end if you read the skeptics work they argue against each other’s resurrection theory by using some of the facts below. In the final analysis the only resurrection theory that answers all of these facts is that Jesus Christ actually rose again from the grave in a bodily form.

Critically-recognized resurrection facts (90%)

  1. Jesus died due to crucifixion

  1. Jesus was buried, probably in a private tomb.

  1. The disciples became bereaved and discouraged, losing hope.

  1. Jesus’ tomb was found empty very soon afterwards (75%)

  1. The disciples had real experiences that they thought were appearances of the risen Jesus.

  1. As a result, the disciples were completely transformed, even to the point of being willing to die for their faith.

  1. The disciples’ proclamation of the resurrection began shortly afterwards, at a very early dated. Acts 2:29ff

  1. The disciples’ initial resurrection preaching occurred in Jerusalem, where all these events had occurred.

  1. The early Gospel message centered on Jesus’ death and resurrection.

1 Cor 15

  1. The Christian church was birthed about this same time, with Sunday being the primary worship day.

  1. James, Jesus’ brother and a skeptic during Jesus’ life, was converted after he thought that he also saw an appearance of the risen Jesus.

  1. A few years later, Saul of Tarsus—Paul—became a Christian, based on a real experience that he also thought was an appearance of the risen Jesus.