Archive for November, 2016

(A series of scripted correspondences from a ‘Heavenly helper’ to a Christian Soldier)

[Letter 5: The Bible]

Greetings Soldier,

I have much to say in response to your second question which involves the special revelation found in the Bible. As you have rightly stated, it is truly astounding to know that the God of heaven and earth has chosen to reveal Himself to mankind such that they can know for certain who He is via inspired text. Without a doubt, the Bible is unlike any other book ever written and it is important for you to not only understand THAT it is different, but also WHY it is different. As such, here are some important truths to keep in mind regarding God’s great Book and the inspired truths within it.

First of all, the Bible is unique among other so-called ‘holy books’, as it alone meets the criteria of a true objective Revelation in that it can be freely examined by all, corresponds with reality, makes sense of the necessary preconditions of human intelligibility (such as knowledge, truth, logic, morality, and the uniformity of nature), and is internally consistent (i.e. doesn’t contradict itself).  The very fact that God used fallible people to produce an infallible work is, itself, a feat worthy of awe, especially considering the fact that the Bible was written over a period of about 1,500 years, by approximately 40 different authors, yet their writings agree in perfect harmony!  To put into perspective just how miraculous this is, consider the following story:

One Friday night, four teenagers went out for a ride around their town.  They had so much fun that they lost track of time and accidentally kept one of the teens out past his curfew.  Afraid that he would get in trouble, they decided that they would simply tell the boy’s dad that they had had a flat tire and that was the reason why they were late getting him home; problem solved!  Thick as thieves, they all went in to face the boy’s father together as the teen meticulously recited the concocted story to his dad.  When asked if it was true, the other three enthusiastically affirmed that it was.  “Well,” said the dad, “I guess that settles it, then.”  The boys all breathed a sigh of relief.  “One more thing, though,” they heard the dad say as he handed each of them a pen and a scrap of paper, “I want each of you to write down WHICH tire was flat.”

Now, what do you suppose the odds are that all four boys will write down the exact same thing, on the very first try (without any prior discussion of this detail)?  Yet, that’s exactly what we find with the Bible:  God got it right the first time!  He has delivered His message completely intact via those forty or so inspired individuals (many of whom never met or spoke to one another) who lived at different times in history, resided in different geographical regions, and were from varying social and economic backgrounds.  In fact, from Genesis to Revelation, it’s as if this entire book was written by the hand of the same author; because ultimately it was—God’s!
In addition, we find that the Bible is also historically, scientifically, and prophetically accurate, which is exactly what one would expect from an omniscient, omnipotent God.  Let’s elaborate:

Historically Accurate:  The Bible provides factual, verifiable historical records of real people, places, and events.  Because of its precise and detailed accounts, it is relied upon more than any other book in antiquity to aid in locating artifacts and relics from ancient civilizations.  Even among secular archeologists, the general consensus is that if the Bible says something is at a particular location, it’s there.  This is something that time has only served to confirm again and again as new archeological finds constantly serve to validate the truth of the Bible.

Scientifically Accurate:  As we would expect, the Bible is not only scientifically accurate, it also contains many scientific facts that were revealed by God long before they were ever discovered by man.  Here are a few:

~At a time when most people (including the scientific community of the day) were convinced that the earth was flat, the Bible declares, in Isaiah 40:22, that God sits upon the ‘circle (sphere) of the earth’ about 3,000 years BEFORE Christopher Columbus made his famous voyage around the world.

~Thousands of years before NASA successfully sent man into orbit around your planet, the Bible alludes to the earth’s free float in outer space, with no visible means of support.  In Job 26:7 we are told that God hangs the earth on NOTHING.

~Long before the modern telescope gave man true insight to the vastness of the universe, the Bible reveals in Genesis 15:5 and Hebrews 11:12 that the stars of the heavens are innumerable, at a time when only about 1,100 stars could be seen with the naked human eye.

~Inspired by the phrase ‘paths of the seas’ in Psalm 8:8, famous oceanographer, Matthew Maury, began to study old ships’ logs.  From his studies, he compiled data of ocean-wind and sea currents and was later able to develop this data into charts of the ocean currents—the ‘paths’ of the seas—which greatly aided the science of marine navigation.

~Only in recent times has washing one’s hands in running water and the quarantine of the sick become a standard practice for those in the medical profession.  Untold lives could have been saved over the years had people only read their Bibles, as these practices are specifically advocated all the way back in Leviticus.

Prophetically Accurate:  Not surprisingly, one of the ways in which God demonstrates the authenticity of His Word is through the accurate foretelling of future events.  Since only God knows the future, fulfilled prophecy is powerful proof of Divine Inspiration.  However, we should also remember God’s standard of accuracy for prophecy is 100%.  Anything less and you can be assured that what was spoken did not come from God, and that the person who made the prediction is a false prophet.   The Bible contains some 2,500 prophecies, about 2000 of which already have been fulfilled to the letter with no errors, while the remaining 500 or so reach into the future and may be seen unfolding as days go by.  Here are but a few of the fulfilled prophecies found in the Bible:

~Sometime before 500 B.C. the prophet Daniel proclaimed that Israel’s long-awaited Messiah would begin his public ministry 483 years after the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (Daniel 9:25-26). He further predicted that the Messiah would be “cut off,” killed, and that this event would take place prior to a second destruction of Jerusalem. Abundant documentation shows that these prophecies were perfectly fulfilled in the life (and crucifixion) of Jesus Christ

~In approximately 700 B.C. the prophet Micah named the tiny village of Bethlehem as the birthplace of Israel’s Messiah (Micah 5:2). The fulfillment of this prophecy in the birth of Christ is one of the most widely known and widely celebrated facts in history.

~In the fifth century B.C. a prophet named Zechariah declared that the Messiah would be betrayed for the price of a slave—thirty pieces of silver, according to Jewish law-and also that this money would be used to buy a burial ground for Jerusalem’s poor foreigners (Zechariah 11:12-13). Bible writers and secular historians both record thirty pieces of silver as the sum paid to Judas Iscariot for betraying Jesus, and they indicate that the money went to purchase a “potter’s field,” used—just as predicted—for the burial of poor foreigners (Matthew 27:3-10).

~Some 400 years before crucifixion was invented, both Israel’s King David and the prophet Zechariah described the Messiah’s death in words that perfectly depict that mode of execution. Further, they said that the body would be pierced and that none of the bones would be broken, contrary to customary procedure in cases of crucifixion (Psalm 22 and 34:20; Zechariah 12:10).

Countless other examples of detailed, fulfilled Biblical prophecies could be provided here, including those pertaining to the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, His predicted lineage from the tribe of Judah as a descendant of David, and other specific details of the events surrounding His death, burial, and resurrection from the dead. By contrast, the Muslim Koran contains NO fulfilled prophecies and the Book of Mormon even contains false prophecies (such as citing Jerusalem as the birth place of Jesus instead of Bethlehem, along with other contradictory claims and accounts).   As the Word of God, the Bible stands alone as the only source of Divine Truth in the universe.  It is, therefore, no surprise that it has been the object of ongoing satanic attack over the years to attempt to destroy and discredit it.  However, those who have voiced even the most vehement opposition to the Bible in ages past are now lying silent in their graves, while the irrefutable truth of God’s Word still speaks and its mighty power lives on.  In fact, John Clifford’s poem, ‘The Anvil of God’s Word’, is a fitting tribute to that fact:

“Last eve I paused beside the blacksmith’s door, And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;

Then looking in, I saw upon the floor, Old hammers, worn with beating years of time.

“‘How many anvils have you had,’ said I, ‘To wear and batter all these hammers so?’

‘Just one,’ said he, and then with twinkling eye, ‘The anvil wears the hammers out, you know.’

“And so, I thought, the Anvil of God’s Word For ages skeptic blows have beat upon;
Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard, The Anvil is unharmed, the hammers gone.”

In closing, I leave you with the inspired (and fitting) words of the Apostle Peter: “But the word of the Lord endureth for ever…” 1 Peter 1:25.  Here to serve,

Your Heavenly ‘Angent’

(A series of scripted correspondences from a ‘Heavenly helper’ to a Christian Soldier)

[Letter 4]:

Greetings Soldier,

I appreciate very much your enthusiastic questions! I see a hunger for truth and understanding in you that the Father finds most pleasing. It is His great delight to ‘pull back the veil’ and reward those who seek truth with the answers that they desire as they ask, seek, and knock with confidence in Christ. It is my great pleasure to be the means by which this treasure is conveyed to you, as the only thing more joyful than receiving knowledge is imparting it to those who sincerely desire it. Indeed, the acceptance and appreciation of truth by those who gladly receive it is its own reward to those from whom it is imparted. With that in mind, let’s attend to that very thing.

First, you asked specifically for ways to convey to unbelievers how Creation itself demonstrates the existence of God. One very simple, yet powerful, way to convey this truth is to simply point out the obvious—that just as paintings don’t paint themselves and buildings don’t build themselves, creation cannot have ‘created’ itself. To assert that it has done so (and without having observed it or anything else ever having done so) is to abandon a stance of rationality and good sense in exchange for blind faith and wishful thinking. After all, who but a fool would attempt to argue that natural laws (such as thermodynamics, gravity, physics, etc.) can exist without a Lawgiver? No doubt, you have already noticed that many times, when in the midst of discussing these issues with unbelievers, they will often appeal to what they have read in science books or atheistic literature in order to try to support their faith in evolution—-in other words, they ultimately are asking you to join them in exercising blind faith in something they have only read about in a book—-how ironic indeed!!  Here to serve,

Your Heavenly ‘Angent’

 

(A series of scripted correspondences from a ‘Heavenly helper’ to a Christian Soldier)

[Letter 3]:

Greetings Soldier,

Of course it is no bother to further elaborate on the references to natural and special revelation as mentioned in my first correspondence to you. I am glad that you are interested in learning more about the ways that God has revealed Himself to humankind and I always enjoy talking in detail about them. First, there is natural revelation. This is God’s revelation of Himself through His creation. Consider the universe and all that it contains–the stars, the moon, the sun, planets, oceans, trees, grass, people, clouds, rain, insects, animals, etc. These are all but a reflection of God’s awesome power and His unlimited creative genius. Indeed, that which is made declares the presence of the Maker and the laws that govern His Creation serve as irrefutable proof of His Sovereignty as the Supreme ruler of Heaven and Earth. In fact, it bears repeating that Romans 1:18-20 states that God’s existence is so plainly confirmed via His creation that no one has an excuse for denying Him whatsoever. How’s that for irrefutable, eyewitness testimony!

Though Creation is more than sufficient proof of God’s existence, God hasn’t stopped there. He has also revealed Himself to mankind via special (or, as some like to call it, supernatural) revelation. This includes His revelation of Himself through the Bible, His Spirit, and through Jesus Christ. It is through these means that we find the deeper wellspring of wisdom and insight into who God is (His character and nature), what He expects of mankind with regards to their thinking, behavior, and salvation (as those being made in His image and subject to His Ultimate Authority), and His plan to ultimately restore all things to a state of eternal perfection, order, and peace through His only begotten Son. Through the kindness of the Father in revealing the Truth of Himself to man, natural and special revelation form the basis for all knowledge and truth and, therefore, provide sound testimony of the inescapable reality of a living God who upholds and sustains all things by the power of His might. May this knowledge make you bold in your witness and fill you with all confidence and Holy assurance in the God that has called you according to his Divine purpose. Here to serve,

Your Heavenly ‘Angent’

(A series of scripted correspondences from a ‘Heavenly helper’ to a Christian Soldier)

[Letter 2]:

Greetings Soldier,

I see that you took to heart the information in our last correspondence. I commend you for your courage in challenging your uncle’s philosophy and attempting to enlighten him as to the difference between blind and justified faith. Although his attitude was less than receptive, this is a great start for future discussions with him. Remember, the idea is not necessarily to have him admit defeat of his arguments all at once, but to begin to get him to think critically and honestly about his own position of atheism. For instance, consider where his faith really lies when it is all said and done—-it is in the unobserved (and unobservable) ‘phenomenon’ of evolution. Not only has he never seen one kind or species of animal becoming another kind or species over millions/billions of years, he has to assume at the present that those things which allegedly ‘evolved’ into what we see now originally came from nothing, which somehow turned into something, which then somehow blew up and became everything.

A great victory is won whenever the unbeliever is made to consider the ultimate consequences of their professed beliefs, as the God-sanctioned rational aspect of their nature will not allow them to be at peace once made aware that they are holding to such irreconcilable, contradictory thoughts about the world and reality in general. The subsequent struggle that arises within them is most certainly in our favor and, more often than not, signifies the beginnings of spiritual life awakening within the unbeliever (remember, darkness is never so restless as when the light is present). May the Lord use you and your words as the means to accomplish that blessed result. Here to serve,

Your Heavenly ‘Angent’

(A series of scripted correspondences from a ‘Heavenly helper’ to a Christian Soldier)

[Letter 1:  An Answer to Prayer]

Greetings Soldier,

I am delighted to inform you that your prayer for wisdom has been heard and gladly granted by God the Father! As representative of His heavenly host and a ministering spirit on your behalf, He has sent me as His ambassador and Angelic Agent (or Angent, if you prefer) to communicate unto you the truth you need to overcome the daily opposition and deception you are encountering (and which you earnestly desire to both expose and refute). Nothing pleases the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ more than a genuine desire from the Redeemed to grow in wisdom and knowledge so that they might engage in ‘Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ’ as prescribed in 2 Corinthians 10:5.

Indeed, this is but one aspect of ‘Seeking first the Kingdom of God’ as commanded by our Lord Jesus and is always commended and cheerfully aided by the Father—after all, remember His great delight in a certain King Solomon who, in deference to the will of God, declined to ask for worldly riches and honor but, instead, prayed earnestly for Godly wisdom in His endeavors as ruler over Israel. Needless to say, his place in history as the wisest natural born man ever to live requires no further commentary as to God’s abundant provision in response to his prayers. I find great joy in letting you know that the same God who was rich towards Solomon will not disappoint any who call upon Him with the same petition and in the same earnestness of spirit! Indeed, Almighty God will not withhold any good thing from those who walk uprightly, as promised in the 84th Psalm of His Book—the Bible.

Therefore, in response to your unbelieving uncle’s attack on faith in general—and the Christian faith specifically—it is important for you to first understand the distinction between that of ‘justified faith’ and ‘blind faith’. The difference is, the first is rational and good, while the second is not. As a rational, logical Being Himself, God does not (and will not) ask anyone to come to Him through blind, irrational faith–something which carries connotations of, and actually is, but a form of ‘darkness’ (since it alludes to ignorance and superstition) as opposed to the ‘light’ of knowledge and truth. Of course, God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. Perhaps the following simple illustration will help convey the difference. Please consider these two scenarios:

Scenario 1:  A young boy wakes up on a cold winter morning in a small South Dakota town.  Excitedly, he pulls back the curtains of his bedroom window to reveal a winter wonderland outside, with the first snowfall of the year having blanketed everything in sight.  He throws on his boots, trousers, coat, and scarf and then grabs his bobsled as he makes his way to the freshly frozen lake out behind his house.  He approaches the lake at a full sprint and, without a second thought, throws his sled down onto the ice and jumps, outstretched, on top of it with a squeal of delight.

Scenario 2:  The same young boy awakes on the same snowy morning.  He dons his winter wear, and grabs his sled.  As he approaches the freshly frozen lake behind his house, he notices the tire tracks from his dad’s 2.5 ton pickup truck stretching from the driveway of their home all the way out across the frozen lake to the other side, where his father is gathering a load of fresh firewood for their home.  With confidence, he gleefully runs out onto the ice and begins his fun-filled day of bobsledding.

Now, in both scenarios, the boy had faith in the ice on the lake and its ability to hold him and his sled.  The difference is, the faith exercised in the first scenario was an unjustified or blind faith, as there was no rational reason for the boy to trust that the ice could hold him.  Sure, he believed that it would, but there was no real justification for his belief. However, in the second scenario, the boy was exercising justifiable faith.  That is, he had a very good reason for believing that the ice would hold him and for subsequently acting upon that belief by stepping out onto it.  The tracks, indicating that his father’s much larger and heavier vehicle had successfully been supported by the ice, gave him a logical justification for his assumption that it would also hold him.  That is the same type of faith that God calls men to exercise with regards to trusting Him and His Word.  Consider Romans 1:18-20:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

According to these verses, God has clearly revealed Himself to all mankind such that all are without excuse for denying Him. That is, the ‘tracks’ He has left via both His natural and special revelation, not only justify faith in Him, they demand it.  As such, Christianity is not a blind leap into the dark unknown, but rather, it is a confident step onto a sure foundation of Truth that has been established and revealed by God in such a way that mankind can know with certainty who He is and that His Word is true.  This is why the Apostle Paul could confidently declare in 2 Timothy 2:12

……nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

The foundation of God is indeed a sure one. It is not shameful to trust in Him—it is shameful not to. May God help people everywhere to trust Him more, building themselves up on their most holy faith (and may He do so through you as you put to use the wisdom He has granted). Here to serve,

Your Heavenly ‘Angent’

At least that’s what the bumper sticker on the van in front of me said.  It was one of literally several dozen, plastered all over the back of the vehicle, declaring the non-existence of God and the intellectual superiority of atheism.  I couldn’t help but find the irony (and humor) in all the time, energy, and resources that were no doubt used to create this rolling billboard designed for the sole purpose of telling the world that God does not exist.  After all, if there is no God, and therefore no ultimate meaning to the universe, why bother to go through all the trouble of trying to convince anyone of anything?  Not to mention, for the sake of consistency, shouldn’t all ‘so called’ non-existent entities be treated with the same contempt and given their proper sticker space on the back of one’s vehicle?

This was not the case, however, as I noticed that I didn’t see even one sticker declaring the non-existence of Santa, the Easter Bunny, Harry Potter, Bigfoot, or even the Tooth Fairy……only God. The reason for this can be summed up in one word: Authority.  According to Romans Chapter 1, everyone knows that God exists, but some choose to suppress that truth in unrighteousness. That is, they work very hard at pretending that God does not exist as a means of (unsuccessfully) avoiding accountability to Him.  In short, some people would just rather be their own god than submit to the one true God of Scripture.  This is perfectly consistent with what the Bible tells us about the depraved nature of mankind and our inherent desire to rebel against our Creator.  It has been rightly stated that:

The atheist can’t find God for the same reason a criminal can’t find a policeman.

They simply don’t WANT to, as they have made themselves the enemies of God and have transgressed against His righteous Authority, through their sin and rebellion. The sole remedy for rebellion against God is complete surrender to Him, through obeying the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Of course, this can only be brought about via the regenerating work of God’s Holy Spirit upon the heart of the unbeliever.  As such, the type of self-deception that the professing atheist engages in is not only very foolish and dangerous, it also ultimately means that, by definition, atheism is…..you guessed it…..pretend.  Now that’s a bumper sticker I’d like to see!