Professing Atheists Are Blind to Their Own Lack of Objectivity

February 20, 2015 at 1:54 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Professing Atheist: It’s odd that you think quoting the Bible would sway unbelievers.

Christian: You may not like it, but it’s not “odd” at all. Christians believe the Bible is the Word of God (II Timothy 3:16), and we have seen many unbelievers swayed by its truth.

Professing Atheist: What “truth” are you referring to?

Christian: The Bible itself and Jesus Himself, Who is THE Truth (John 14:6). You’ve never met anyone who started out rejecting it, read it, and then changed his/her mind? Let me help you find a Christian church to visit.

Professing Atheist: No thanks. Been there, done that. It took me 40 years of belonging to a Charismatic church to realize it was nonsense.

Christian: You should try another church – a non-Charismatic evangelical church. If it was a typical Charismatic church, you may be like the unbelievers described in I Corinthians 14:23-25.

Professing Atheist: Those are Paul’s words, and they are not relative to me.

Christian: You mean “relevant,” but they are relevant to you, because they are not just Paul’s words, they are the Holy Spirit’s words, and the Holy Spirit is God, and God is your Creator and your Judge.

Professing Atheist: Most Christians are taught or told that the Bible is true before they ever read or have time to evaluate its claims.

Christian: That doesn’t make it odd for Christians to quote it to unbelievers. You are assuming that “most” haven’t evaluated it, but, even if that’s true, by your own admission, others have read it and have been convinced of its truth afterward.

Professing Atheist: Do you ever take into consideration that there are probably more that reject than believe?

Christian: Of course. The Bible says that many reject (Matthew 7:13-14). It doesn’t say that all reject.

Professing Atheist: The Bible is a book of claims. I reject its claims for lack of conclusive evidence.

Christian: There’s no conclusive evidence that you reject it for that reason. I reject your claim that you reject it for that reason.

Professing Atheist: You’re just playing semantic games. The fact that I said I reject it is evidence that I reject it. That’s my conclusive evidence.

Christian: That’s the point. It’s “your” evidence (Judges 17:6) so you’ve subjectively labeled it as “conclusive.” And your “evidence” is just a self-assertion. It shows that you have a double standard. You don’t reject the Bible as true. You just don’t like it (Romans 1:18).

Professing Atheist: Do you think cherry picking Bible verses will somehow convince me?

Christian: The Holy Spirit may or may not use them to convict you or convince you, but, if you think they are being used out of context, I honestly hope that you will look them up and read them in context.

Professing Atheist: I reject the Bible’s claims, but I do like reading its fictitious stories.

Christian: Try to be consistent. You were pretending earlier that you were persuaded by “conclusive” evidence. There’s no conclusive evidence that the stories in the Bible are fictitious. In fact, the definition of “fiction” is a work where the author does not claim
its truthfulness. The Bible definitely asserts its own truthfulness. And you know deep down that what it says matters.

Professing Atheist: I know it matters? Nice assumption.

Christian: That’s why you’re driven to discuss it. The fact of this conversation proves that you know it matters.

Key Words for Bible Teachers: Truth and Type

June 20, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Posted in Biblical Teaching | 11 Comments
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If someone takes on the responsibility of being a “teacher,” and if what he is teaching is itself important, then the job of teaching becomes a very important job. If a teacher of anything “important” carries a great weight of responsibility, then a Bible teacher carries the greatest weight of responsibility of any teacher.

My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

James 3:1

Those who would teach the Bible are held accountable. They are responsible for wanting to see their students grow – and I don’t mean “grow” in the sense of an increased number of students, although that is often a good goal to have as well. Bible teachers should want their students to grow in faithfulness. They should also want the time of teaching to be “fun” (or at least enjoyable on some level). But most of all they should have a goal of being able to stand before God one day knowing that they have actually taught the Bible – regardless of the results.

Noah, Jeremiah, and many of God’s teachers and prophets did not see the earthly “results” they would have liked to see – but today they stand vindicated before God because they faithfully proclaimed and taught the Truth of God’s Word.

There are three principles that have helped me stay motivated, encouraged, energized, and focused as a Sunday School teacher: Truth, Type, and Treasure.

Truth: Realize that, when we teach from the Bible, we are teaching the Truth. If what we are dealing with is not absolute Truth – Truth personified (“I am the Truth…”), then we are wasting our time. We would be better off just entertaining people and keeping them busy instead of worrying about our Bibles if we are not committed to Truth.

And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:

Acts 20:22

Paul was speaking to the Church and he was giving sort of a farewell address. He had been with them, teaching them for some time, and he was about to go on a missionary journey. We usually think of being “free in the Spirit,” but the gift of the Holy Spirit comes with a great responsibility. He frees us from disobedience. He does not free us so we can engage in self-indulgence. This is real freedom, not the world’s idea of freedom. The world’s “freedom” is the worst type of slavery – slavery to self and to sin.

Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.

Acts 20:23-27

As a Sunday School teacher, when someone leaves my class for good, I want to be able to declare truthfully before God that I am “pure” (innocent) of his “blood.” How can I do this? Only by declaring the whole counsel of God. If you are a Bible teacher can you say that you have talked to your class about the uncomfortable things of the Bible? Sometimes it’s relatively easy to tell students that “all things work together for good,” but have you told them about the sinfulness of boys and girls, of men and women? Have you told them about the holiness and righteousness and justice and wrath of God? Have you tried to explain what it meant for God to sacrifice His beloved Son? Of what it cost – and what the realization of that cost should mean in our lives – so we can be the children of God? When I presume to teach the Bible my attitude should be influenced by the thought that the students’ lives are in my hands.

Now if that sounds like an instance of inflated ego or boastfulness, let’s remember that, if they are in my hands, I am in God’s hands. I would rather be able to say that their lives are “in my hands” than that their blood is “on my hands.”

Type: We must realize that when we teach we are to make a “type,” an “imprint.”

But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

Romans 6:17

The “form of doctrine,” the “type of teaching” handed down from the Apostles was known in the Greek language as the typos didache. A good illustration is the way old typewriters used to make an imprint on a piece of paper – or the way the seal or signet ring of an ancient king or Roman official would make an imprint in hot wax on a document. Bible teachers should deliver messages from God’s Word with such passion that it makes an imprint on the students – in such a way that they are “stamped” with orthodox teaching. Unless you are teaching a group of students that have an unusually large amount of Bible knowledge, or unless they are already under the teaching of someone else who does, they will not get the didache anywhere else. Children certainly do not get get it in school. It is not taught on television. Sadly, more and more these days, it is even absent from religious instruction. Your students will be prone to seduction by what “seems” good, by what “looks” good, by what “sounds” good, and by what “feels” good. We are living in a time when almost everyone does what seems right in his or her own eyes. A lesson plan can be erased, an arts and crafts project can be erased, a prize for being the best student can be erased. But a “type,” a permanent imprint, can not be erased.

A “type” must be pressed down hard. For a teacher this is hard work – the type must be held down for a while. It requires endurance, persistence, and determination. God has called you to deliver the typos – the imprint. Therefore, He will give you the strength and the ability – even the stubbornness or steadfastness – to do it.

We have seen the Truth and the Type. Next time, we will look at the Treasure.

Light Can Be Offensive

June 15, 2011 at 10:06 am | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, Biblical Light | 11 Comments
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When a person is sound asleep and someone suddenly shines a bright light right into his face, the sleepy person is going to have a tendency to get angry. In a similar way, the Light of the Gospel can be very offensive to a lost person.

My wife is a big fan of bright lights first thing in the morning. If she could have her way, she would spring out of bed and immediately turn on all the brightest lights in the house. That probably speaks well of her spiritual condition, because, as Christians, we should be lovers of light more than darkness. I have to admit that I like to wake up a little more slowly. If I get my way, I’ll get up, take a shower, and get dressed – all in the dark (which probably explains why my tie seldom matches my shirt and I’m wearing mismatched socks).

We live in “dark days,” spiritually speaking. 21st Century America is very similar to the time period described in the Book of Judges. People are mainly doing “what is right in their own eyes” instead of what God has commanded. It seems like the people whose eyes are most adjusted to darkness are some of the the most influential in our society. This does not bode well for our future. When small men cast long shadows, it’s a sure sign that the sun is setting.

Light has a tendency to make things brighter and more clear. We use words like “luminous;” “luster;” “illuminate;” and “illustrate.” When things are clear – when they are seen in their “true light” – we can be prepared and alert. Can you imagine a security guard charged with protecting someone’s life and property, understanding the importance of staying awake, and yet deciding to turn the lights out during his watch?

People who desire to commit acts of shame or evil often seek out areas of darkness. Most nightclubs or barrooms are dark. Most major cities have a “bad side” of town where the streets are dark.

The “color” black (which is really the absence of light) is the color of mourning and sadness.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

Genesis 1:2-4

God said the light was good. He didn’t say that about the darkness. And in the very beginning He divided them – He separated them. As Christians, we have the “Light of the World” shining within us. We shouldn’t try to turn this Light down in order to fit in with the world, nor in order to allow the world to keep sleeping, nor out of fear that we might offend the darkness with Light. We need to shine brightly into the darkest parts of the world.

We sing, “Send the light, the blessed Gospel light; Let it shine from shore to shore! Send the light, the blessed Gospel light; Let it shine forevermore!” Many Christians agree that we should send the Light, but few want to help pay the light bill. There is a financial cost, as well as a comfort cost, in sending forth the Light. There is also the cost of ridicule and embarrassment when we shine our Savior’s light.

Light can be very offensive. There’s a right way to be offensive and a wrong way to be offensive. I must remember that the Light does not ultimately come from me. It is the Light of God – hopefully reflected – but only reflected – off me. Satan got in trouble over this issue back when he was still an angel.

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

Isaiah 14:12-15

The name “Lucifer” meant “light-bearer” or “bright one.” He was not a light “source,” and neither are we – but we should be mirrors, and light “amplifiers.”

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

John 3:19-20

Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth: and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth.

Hosea 6:5

Christ Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament type of sacrificial offerings, but He wasn’t a “burnt offering,” because He produced His Own light.

Biological eyes are dependent on light in order to work properly. Even eyes that work well are useless in the dark. In Scripture lost people are compared to blind people – they are spiritually blind. It is not so much because their “spiritual eyes” don’t work. It is more because they are choosing to remain away from the Light. A lost person hates the true Light. He wants to remain in the dark. But God has given Christians the responsibility – and the awesome privilege – of shining His Light into the dark, and showing lost people the way out of the dark and into the light of His glory.

Strange Weapons Lesson 1: The Prod (background)

February 28, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Posted in Biblical farming, Strange Weapons | 14 Comments
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Strange Weapons: A Prod, a Peg, and a Pitcher

Lesson One: The Prod

BACKGROUND INFORMATION AND HISTORICAL SETTING

And after him was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel.

Judges 3:31

This verse interrupts the suspenseful tale of Ehud and Eglon the way a breaking news story will sometimes interrupt a television program. The breaking news story that day was about a man named Shamgar. The Bible does not tell us a great deal about him. Judges 3:31 and Judges 5:6 are the only Verses in the Bible about him.

In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied, and the travellers walked through byways.

Judges 5:6

Shamgar was apparently honored, because the Bible refers to “the days of Shamgar” in the same way that our secular history books speak of “the Roosevelt years” or “the Reagan years” or “Victorian England.”

Because of the honor afforded to Shamgar and because his account is given in the Book of Judges, it is possible that Shamgar was a judge, although he is not called a “judge” in the Bible.

Judges 5:6 also tells how dangerous the land of Canaan was in those days. It says that “the highways were unoccupied, and the travelers walked through byways.” In other words, travelers had to sneak around the country to avoid the perils that came with being out in the open or away from inhabited areas in a lawless land.

This is a good place to pause and review this important lesson from the days when these events took place. In the days which are recorded in the Book of Judges, every man did what was right in his own eyes. Judges 17:6 and Judges 21:25 say almost the same thing, and that is one of the main themes in the Book of Judges: “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” In that respect, it reminds us of America today. We do not live in a society where there are no laws, and for that we may be thankful, but certainly today the most common barometer for a person’s behavior when it comes to moral matters is “what is right in his own eyes.”

When Shamgar appeared on the scene, the Philistines were seriously oppressing God’s people. The reason for this is that God’s people were not acting like God’s people. In fact, the name “Shamgar” isn’t a Hebrew name. Shamgar is called the son of Anath, and Anath was a Canaanite goddess. She was the goddess of sex and war, and she was worshiped as the wife and sister of the false god, Baal. Therefore, it is possible that Shamgar was from a very worldly family. Being raised in a worldly household is certainly not a positive thing, but the fact that God used Shamgar in a great way should be an encouragement to those today who are Christians, but who did not have the advantage of being raised in a godly family. God can choose you and God can use you regardless of your background or upbringing.

Shamgar was probably a simple farmer, not noble or wealthy, but one day something caused Shamgar to rise up on behalf of God and kill 600 Philistines with a very strange weapon. This weapon was his ox-goad – what we would call a cattle prod. It was a tool that was probably between five and ten feet long. It would have had a sharp iron point on one end and a small shovel or spade on the other end. The sharp point was used to keep the oxen moving while plowing and the spade was used for cleaning the plow which the oxen pulled.
http://tommyboland.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/ox-goad.jpg

This prod was a useful tool, but it made a strange weapon. Keeping this background information in mind, next time I will make three comparisons between Shamgar’s prod, which he used as a weapon, and the weapons of our spiritual warfare today. The prod was a strange weapon, and the weapons which God will use in our lives today as we wage spiritual warfare may seem just as strange.

Professing Atheists Try to Allay Their Fears

February 12, 2009 at 9:49 am | Posted in ProfessingAtheists | 3 Comments
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Professing Atheist: The Bible, huh? Well, can you please explain to me what on earth is going on in Judges 19, vv. 22-25? I wouldn’t ask, only it seems a little immoral and misogynistic to my 21st century humanist way of thinking.

Christian: It is good to see – in spite of their fears – that some professing atheists ARE reading Scripture. I challenge them to continue doing so. Exploring Judges 19:22-25, we see the attitude and actions of a very sinful Levite. There is a key word in verse 24: “Behold, here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what SEEMETH good unto you: but unto this man do not so vile a thing.” The word “seemeth” points out the source of the wicked and vile behavior exhibited by the Levite and the men of Gibeah. It is a theme in the whole book of Judges: Men were rebelling against God, and doing what seemed right in their own eyes. (See Judges 17:6 and 21:25.) The same type of rebellion exists today: “Skepticism ’seems’ natural.” Behavior “’seems’ a little immoral…”

Many men in the days of the book of Judges behaved wickedly for many of the same reasons men behave wickedly in the 21st century. Their standard is what seems right to them, instead of what God has said.

The type of reprehensible behavior recorded in Judges 19:22-25 – and worse – can be found today being described in the juvenile and criminal courts of any city or town in the U.S. Thankfully, though, God is real, and He is just. “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Proverbs 16:25


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