Two Apologetics Websites

With the prevalence of atheism, agnosticism, occultic and cultic belief systems, and many other errors in western society, it is good that the Lord raises up some Christians to defend the faith and equip the church for effective evangelism. Two websites that I enjoy in this regard are Christian Evidences and Apologetics315.

Christian Evidences Ministries, is run by my friend and brother in Christ, Rob Sullivan. A businessman by profession, brother Rob is also a gifted Bible teacher and gospel preacher who has a special interest in evangelism and apologetics. He organizes his site around four lines of evidence, summarized by the acronym “MAPS”: “Manuscript evidence”; “Archaeological evidence”; “Prophectic evidence”; and “Scientific evidence.” Using video presentations, coupled with written materials, Rob presents answers to many objections of modern skeptics, as well as presenting a logically coherent case for biblical Christianity.

Apologetics 315 is a website started and maintained by Brian Auten (whom I don’t know personally.) It has many interesting interviews with scholars, apologists, preachers, authors, and others who proclaim the truth and answer the critics. His interviews may be beamed by RSS feed directly to a reader (e.g. Google Reader) or iTunes. He also presents weekly bonus links to other audio, video, & written material from around the web dealing with apologetics and witnessing. The site also features regular book reviews pertaining to apologetics. Apologetics315 is an excellent tool for those who want to clear away obstacles to the gospel.

Both of these sites present a great trove of materials for defending, sharing, and teaching the Scriptures to a lost world. They carry on the spirit of the injuction in 1 Peter 3:15: “but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”

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Jottings – Modern Preaching

Ministers can proclaim anything in a stained-glass voice at 11:30 on Sunday morning following the singing of hymns. Yet when they fail to preach the Scriptures, they abandon their authority. No longer do they confront their hearers with a word from God. That is why most modern preaching evokes little more than a wide yawn. God is not in it.

Haddon W. Robinson (2001). Biblical Preaching, 2nd Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. Page 20. In many churches today professionally choreographed performances have replaced the authentic, albeit homespun, church meetings of our grandparents. Such stage driven “worship” is considered by many to be progress; a refreshing (or at least entertaining) change from the past. With all of this change, it seems the emphasis our grandparent’s churches put on God’s Word has also gone to the wayside. Verse by verse expository preaching has been replaced with an entertaining, religious form of modivational speaches. As Haddon Robinson said, when we fail to preach the Scriptures God is not in it.

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Entry Level Theological Truth

The fact that the opening verse of the Bible reveals a great deal about God is often obscured by the contentious debates over competing cosmologies. Of course the controversy over the world’s creation is vitally important, but let us momentarily put it aside in order to consider what this cogent section of Scripture shows about the Almighty.

At least three of His key attributes are manifested in Genesis 1:1:

  1. His Eternality
  2. His Transcendence
  3. His Immanence

Beginning Before The Beginning

The Bible famously begins “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1.) There is no attempt to prove God’s existence; there is merely a description of His activity in creation. One learns that “in the beginning” He already was; this affirms His eternality.

He was never created – nor did He ever begin to be. In His eternal existence, He was obviously self-existent and self-sufficient. He existed before everything, and needed nothing to live or be everything that He is.

Later Scriptures reveal His independence from material sustenance; as He says in Psalm 50:9-13: “I will not take a bull from your house, Nor goats out of your folds. For every beast of the forest is Mine, And the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, And the wild beasts of the field are Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you; For the world is Mine, and all its fullness. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, Or drink the blood of goats?”

The Immensity Of The Creator

What is more, the Creator is distinct from His creation. Pantheism and Panentheism are both refuted by the first verse of Scripture. God is not identical to His creation, nor is He within each creature or created thing. He is distinct and transcendent. Scripture depicts the Lord sitting over the earth, sovereignly overseeing its affairs (Isaiah 40:22.) Contrary to Carl Sagan’s famous opinion that “the Cosmos is all there is, was, or will be,” the Lord is also bigger than the stars (Psalm 8:3.) Since He is greater than His universe, the Bible repeatedly rejects the veneration of created beings or things as idolatry (e.g Deuteronomy 4:19; Romans 1:20-23.)

The Lord’s tremendous power is awesomely displayed in one phrase: “God created.” Without any taxing effort He fashioned the universe out of nothing. This awesome display of energy notwithstanding, He is interested in the minutest detail of His creation. The Creator of the galaxies is the same God who entered His world millennia later to redeem mankind. He is not the remote and distant deity of deistic speculations; nor is He the crass super-tyrant of Greco-Roman mythology. Instead, He is the omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient Maker who diligently cares for mankind’s well-being.

He created planet earth to be uniquely habitable for humans. Because of Man’s fall it no longer demonstrates the pristine glory of its newness, and has become the scene of countless stories of death and woe. Nevertheless, one day the Lord who designed and built the first creation will marvelously transform it into “new heavens and a new earth. And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind” (Isaiah 65:17.)

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Read the next installment of Entry Level Theological Truth here.

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God’s Good News: Lesson 3 Part 2

So all people deserve to be judged by God (Romans 3:9-20)

How terrible! No one can escape! Everyone is under sin. The immoral know God and ignore Him. The moral know right and wrong, but do wrong. The religious know law, but still disobey.

Our lives show our sins, and God’s word says we are sinful. God looks at the people in the world and says “there is not a righteous man, not even one!” He sees all have gone out of the way of doing right. “There is not one that practices goodness, there is not so much as one!”

Is that really how God sees the people of this world? Yes. All of them. Not one of them is good. They do not honor God like they should. They do not obey the truth that they know. They do not live right.

In fact, when God said these things, he was talking about people who had His rules in the law – religious people! Not one person can avoid the judgment for their evil actions! We are all guilty, so we are all in danger! We all need God’s gospel!

God is righteous, so He requires us to be righteous. But no one has lived righteous. So all are under the wrath of God. No one can do anything to try to justify themselves. Doing works of law will not work. The law has rules from God, but all it does is show men that they miss the mark. All are sinners!

Continued in Lesson 4 Part 1

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What Facebook Can’t Do

FacebookHere at the Digital Sojourner we are all about living a God honoring life in our modern, computerized world. We must use technology to aid us in serving the Greatest of all Masters. Yet, there is an inherent danger. When we allow our relationship with technology to overshadow our relationship with the Lord, it becomes an adulterous affair. We have left our first love. We must ever be on guard to keep the tools we use in proper perspective.

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E-Learning Past Mistakes

Church History

When protecting the United States from counterfeit money, federal agents do not only study real money. If that were the case, they wouldn’t have come up with new methods to ensure that the money you have is the real thing (ie: microprinting ink, new notes every 10 years, etc. ). They long realized that in dealing with the real they had to know what the counterfeiters were doing to keep ahead of them.

In a previous post, I pointed out that it is important to learn corporately and not in a vacuum especially from church history. I quoted a bit saying those who don’t learn heresy are forced to repeat it.

The immediate question might be “What? Learn Heresy?”

Today we deal with a whole mess of counterfeit-Christianity, more-so when you step into the pluralistic quagmire that is the internet. These errors have long been addressed. In that other post I warned that we shouldn’t be studying in a vacuum; here I want to equip you with other tools that show you how Christians historically responded to error:

E-Reading

  • On the Incarnation by Athanasius (alternate link). He stood against Arius (and apparently the mass of Christians) that were falling for the Arian heresy. Arius believed that the Son of God was not eternal but rather a created being. You’ll see Arianism today with Jehovah Witnesses, Oneness Pentecostalism, Mormonism (probably a modified Arianism) and Christadelphians.
  • Against Praxeas  by Tertullion (alternate link). Tertullian stood against the belief that God is one person who revealed himself in different modes or roles which is known as modalism or sabellianism. He is the one who coined the term trinitas which is to say that God is three persons in one essence over against this teaching that says that there are no multiple persons in the Godhead. United Pentecostalism teaches this today. Also read On The Trinity by Hilary.
  • The Refutation of All Heresies by Hippolytus (alternate link). Here you’ll find a refutation of the matured heresy that Paul deals with in his letter to the Colossians—people who make a wrong division between the physical and the spiritual and all that that entails. Some of the error was even making a difference between the God of the New Testament and the God of the Old—as if there were a difference! You’ll find Gnosticism all over the modern church. Also read Against Marcion by Tertullion (alternate link) where he shows the tight connection between the Old and New testament
  • Institutes of Christian Religion by John Calvin (alternate link). Calvin (like all these writers) had his own issues but he systematically worked through Scripture in a response to the Roman church.
  • The Fundamentals. This twelve book set covered a ton of topics all in response to liberal Christianity. There were no councils during this era, so you won’t find a creedal statement—but you will find teaches that are grounded on the fundamentals of the faith.
  • Mysticism and Christianity by B B Warfield. Heavy reading that breaks out of the early centuries of the church but still manages to address a lot of the love for experiences we see today.

Audio

  • Ancient and Medieval Church History podcast by David Calhoun of CTS

Paper Books

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God’s Good News: Lesson 3 Part 1

1. READ THESE VERSES IN YOUR BIBLE: Romans 2:17-3:20

2. READ TEACHING ABOUT THE VERSES

Religious people have God’s word, so are they in danger? (Romans 2:17-3:8)

Perhaps you are not concerned about the wrath of God. You agree that the immoral and even the moral person are in danger of judgment. But you have a higher claim. You are religious.

You think of yourself as having a connection to God. You do religious things. You have ceremonies that you follow. You may have rules that God gave. Maybe you say that you are “Jewish” or a “Christian.” Or perhaps you have some other name that connects you with God. You think that surely God is pleased with you. But is He?

If you have done wrong things, should they be punished? Does God ignore the evil things you did? Will He say you are OK because you call yourself by a religious name? Does God think you are righteous because you do a ritual like go to church every Sunday or get baptized?

Imagine your family was robbed, but the person that robbed you always went to church meetings. Should that person still be punished? Yes! It would be wrong for the judge to ignore the evil deed!

So you might be part of a religious group, but that is not how you can be right with God! You might have rules to follow, but do you always do what is right? God looks at how you really live! You can not hide behind a religious code or a religious ceremony or a religious name.

Does that mean the people who received God’s word are not special? No, they are special! What a privilege they have! But if they received God’s word, they are expected to obey it! They are stewards. God gave them something to care for. So they have to be faithful in caring for God’s word. They have to do what God said! If they do not, they deserve to be punished.

So, you may be a “religious” person, with a religious name and rituals and rules. You have the truth about what God expects through religious codes. But it is not enough to know what is right! God expects you to DO right! To avoid punishment, you have to truly live out a perfect life. So you are in great danger of God’s judgment too! God must give wrath to the unrighteous, and you have no excuse!

Continued in Lesson 3 Part 2

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Podcast: Interview with Dwight Beavers of Voices For Christ

Digital Sojourner recently posted a review of the Voices For Christ website. The VFC website features more than 50,000 audio sermons in mp3 format. The site has been a tremendous blessing to countless English speaking believers around the world.

Behind VFC is a small, all volunteer team of believers who freely give of their time and talents. This team keeps the site online and constantly growing.

When VFC first went online in the Spring of 2005 there were several hundred audio messages available. Since then VFC has steadily grown to over 50,000 messages. Most of the messages were originally recorded years ago on cassette tapes, which means each tape must go through a time consuming process to digitize and save in mp3 format.

Recently I had the opportunity to interview Mr. Dwight Beavers in Durham, NC. Brother Dwight has spent thousands of hours digitizing countless messages. The work he does is far from glamorous, and often tedious. Nevertheless, as he describes in the interview it is a “labor of love.” Digital Sojourner is posting this interview with the prayer that regardless of the nature of your service for the Lord, glamorous or not, tedious or exciting, you will be encouraged and inspired. To God be the glory.

You can listen to the interview here:

 

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Website Review: stempublishing.com

Among the many helpful websites for Christians who are serious about studying the scriptures is STEM — Sound Teaching on Electronic Media.

The site provides free access to the writings and teachings of several gifted brethren from prior generations. Included among the available authors is John Nelson Darby, William Kelly, and F. B. Hole. Much of the material available on the site is either difficult, or impossible to obtain in printed form. This is the real value of the STEM website… solid teaching, freely available for all of the Lord’s people.

The homepage clearly explains the purpose of the site:

Our prayerful desire is that the Lord Jesus Christ will use this God-given ministry in this form for His glory and the blessing of many in these last days before His coming.

When you visit the site you are immediately struck with the clean, minimalist look of the homepage. There are no gaudy graphics or other distractions from the site’s valuable content… a truly refreshing change from many other contemporary websites. As you explore the site you will notice the minimalist theme throughout the site. Also, at the top of most pages is a navigation bar to simplify your movement around the website.

Where to begin?

If you are already familiar with some of the authors listed on the homepage you can go directly to an index of an author’s writings. To do this, simply click on his name. If you are not looking for a particular author the “Samples of the Teaching” section of the homepage offers an excellent way to begin. Here you can explore some of the site’s offerings by topic or by the books of the Bible.

Another way to begin is to use the search tool located near the top center of the homepage. Here you can search the contents of the site for all of the occurrences of a particular word or phrase. When searching for a phrase be sure to surround the phase you type in to the search box with quote marks (example: “The Church of God”). To narrow your search to a particular author click on the “Targeted search” link.

Two Personal Favorites

Among the hundreds of books and articles available on the STEM website are two that have been of particular help to me.

The first is John Nelson Darby’s Synopsis of the Books of the Bible. The “Synopsis” is an extremely helpful commentary that covers all 66 books of the Bible… however, it is not “just another commentary.” The author’s approach is unique, concise and insightful. His tone of writing clearly reveals his love of the scriptures and of the scripture’s Author.

The second is C. H. Mackintosh’s Notes on the Pentateuch. In this offering Macintosh explores the depths of the Pentateuch while maintaining a gentile, devotional tone. Throughout his Notes, he regularly reveals the Lord Jesus Christ, and shows the connection of various passages to the New Testament.

The site has much more to offer, happy exploring! Let us know about your favorite author or article from the STEM website in the comments below.

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Battles Over The Beginning

Recently the media has reported on the growing controversy over the historicity of Genesis. Well-known, self-described evangelical scholars are questioning the existence of Adam and Eve, the story of the flood, and other aspects of Genesis 1-11. Of course, this section of Scripture has been repeatedly attacked during the past two centuries – the assaults often being launched from the liberal wing of Christendom. Nineteenth-century German scholars declared that the Bible must be examined like any other work of literature, downplaying any notion of divine inspiration. Moreover, they typically set aside anything supernatural as unhistorical on the grounds that such things just do not occur and therefore must be myths and fabrications. That it comes from respected “evangelical” professors makes this latest criticism especially dangerous. These men are theological double-agents, undermining the church from within its own ranks.

Error in Christian circles is nothing new. False teachers have promulgated error from privileged positions within the church since the first century. The Lord Jesus warned of wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15-23.) Similarly, Paul warned the Ephesian elders that “…from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves” (Acts 20:30.) Christians must be vigilant against the inevitable attacks that come from within and without.

The conflict over the early chapters of Genesis is particularly dangerous because it undermines the authority of the rest of the Scriptures – thereby destroying the foundations of Christianity. Christian truth rests on the basis of the book of beginnings. What believers know about God, mankind, evil, sin, redemption, the purpose of existence, justice, future judgment, and many other doctrines find their origin in Genesis. The rest of the Bible rests on the belief that the first book is true history.

Genesis’ historical reliability ultimately depends upon the word of Christ Himself.

The New Testament makes it plain that He believed in the accuracy of this embattled book. For instance, He upheld the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman by referring back to the creation of the first human couple, saying: “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:4-6.) Elsewhere, Christ declared His belief in a personal Devil, Satan, also known as “the Father of lies” in language that hearkens back to the first temptation in Genesis 3 (John 8:44.) He also referenced other events such as Cain and Abel (Luke 11:51) and the flood of Noah (Matthew 24:37-38.)

The Lord Jesus is contrasted with the historical Adam regarding sin and salvation (Romans 5) and Christ’s triumph over death itself. If Adam is a literary invention than the basis of redemption and resurrection is undermined. One need not worry, however, for Jesus declared Himself to be the truth (John 14:6) and affirmed that “the Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35.) Genesis is true – we have Christ’s word on it.

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