What is MOST Important to God?

michelangelo-buonarroti-creation-of-adam
Detail from The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512 of Sistine Chapel ceiling.

To start, let’s define the terms.

Definition of most:
Greatest in amount or degree.

Definition of important:
Strongly effecting the course of events or the nature of things

So with God, what specific thing strongly effects the course of events or the nature of all things in the greatest amount or degree?

To me, three answers seem to stand out; there is love, there is free will, and there is holiness.

John 3:16-18
16 “For God so loved* the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes** in him should not perish but have eternal life.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned*** already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

*We know love is important to God because He died to redeem us so we might be saved from sin.

**We know free will is important to God because He gives us the opportunity to choose His Son, to choose to spend eternity with Him, and this is evident even from the beginning when God created man and woman in the garden of Eden.

***And we know that holiness is important to God because those who do not choose to believe in Jesus don’t just get a free pass, but condemn themselves to an eternity apart from God.

In contrast, we know it cannot be any of the three by themselves because the others clearly exist, as this is evident throughout all of the Bible.

What does this mean for us?

Well, with all the beliefs in theology, there seems to be 3 levels of importance.

A. Matters of Salvation – How one is saved, the most important. Jesus is God in the flesh. It is only through belief in Him that you can be saved. This is not by works but by faith.

B. Matters of Witnessing – Effecting salvation of others, second most important. Some beliefs can affect your witness to the lost and possibly the salvation of others. Such beliefs include the authority of Scripture, the role of Christians as missionaries, views on God’s sovereignty and man’s free will, etc…

C. All Other Beliefs – The least important. These are the denominational differences that seem to divide believers but are really trivial beliefs; the proper way to baptize, types of acceptable music, religious traditions, etc…

Other theological stances on certain issues may inadvertently lead to violating A or B, for example: condoning homosexuality, gay marriage, or theistic evolution may seem innocent enough but by doing so, one would have to compromise on what Scripture says about those issues and could thus compromise the authority of Scripture leading to that person’s effectiveness in witnessing.

Also, taking something that falls under C too far could effect one’s witness, for example: if believers fight and argue about religious traditions instead of agreeing to disagree and acknowledge that traditions don’t save people, only Jesus does – that can tarnish the view of the Body of Christ for those who observe this division.

So, my brothers and sisters in Christ, because we can deduce that love, free will, and holiness are so important to God, we know that each person is first solely responsible for his/her salvation. After that, we all share a responsibility to present ourselves worthy to be called followers of Christ and to bring the good news to the lost. And lastly, anything else we believe should be laid aside and not cause contention among one another. Let us strive to build each other up and spread the Gospel to all.

For further insight on love click here
For further insight on free will click here and here and here
For further insight on holiness click here

By Clark Campbell
Theologetics.org

What is MOST Important to God?

What Wasn’t Good During Creation Part 2:

God Day 2
The Second Day of Creation (woodcut by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld from the 1860 Die Bibel in Bildern)

For part 1, see our list of papers here

It is not good that man should be alone.
-God

This is the first time that God said something wasn’t good, this was even before man sinned. There was not only no sin but no death or evil in the world, yet God said something was “not good”. (Genesis 2:18)

These were God’s own words. Even at this time the only other person that Adam had communion with was God. God, the creator of the universe and the epitome of good, spoke with Adam, yet God said that it was not good that man should be “alone”.

God understood the need for human interaction. It could even be argued that God built within man the need for other human interaction.

When we neglect the need for human interaction, specifically within the parameters of the family and the church, we go against God’s plan for our lives. We share in each others joys and pains. We hold each other accountable. We help each other. We teach each other.

Of course one thing that makes this an issue is when we hurt each other. Hurt makes human interaction hard. For some it makes it downright unbearable. But, even then, there is that God-given desire to be around other people. The pain of hurt just overrides this desire. But since hurt and being alone go against God’s design, neither is healthy for us. Pain and hurt become the teachers they were never meant to be. Loneliness becomes the friend it was never meant to be.

Yet, there is hope. Jesus came in the form of man. He has promised to be our comfort when others have failed. At the same time He has commanded us to be there for one another and forgive one another. Being God, He knows the importance of humans being there for one another. Loving each other and building each other up.

Proverbs 18:22
He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.

Proverbs 27:17
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

John 13:34-35
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

By Derrick Stokes
Theologetics.org

What Wasn’t Good During Creation Part 2:

Why Did Jesus Want Two Swords Before He Died?

Jesus-Betrayed
Woodcut for “Die Bibel in Bildern”, 1860.
Artist: Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1794-1872)

“Jesus died because He loves us.”

The meaning of this statement was taken to a whole new level for me once I understood why Jesus may have wanted His disciples to be armed on the night before He was crucified.

Luke 22:35-38
35 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”

“Nothing,” they answered.

36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. 37 It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

38 The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”

“That’s enough!” he replied.

I found this passage perplexing since Jesus commanded His disciples to buy swords but then when they said they already had two, Jesus said that would be enough. What was He referring to? Enough for what??

Well I read an article about Dale Martin, who is a professor of religious studies at Yale University (link at the bottom), that may explain it. The article is titled:

Jesus Was Crucified Because Disciples Were Armed, Bible Analysis Suggests

The writer of the article actually tries to prove a different point about how Jesus was trying to be a political leader.

What the writer didn’t mention are verses that would prove this view wrong, that His disciples thought that’s what the Messiah would do all along; free them from Roman rule, but the Bible is clear on all accounts that this was not why Jesus came to earth. Regardless, if Jesus’s disciples having swords did make the crucifixion possible, it is pretty amazing to think about how the events leading up to Jesus’s death actually unfolded.

In Luke, it’s recorded that before Jesus was betrayed, He told His disciples to buy swords. They told Him they had two already and He said that was enough. This seems strange, what good would two swords do all of them? Well according to the article mentioned above, by Roman law, Jesus was crucified because of the swords His disciples were carrying the night He was captured. If that was the case, He actually made sure they had swords so that He would be crucified.

Also, Jesus wanted them to have the two swords to fulfill a prophecy in Isaiah.

Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
    and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
    and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
    and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12)

So what seems like a strange request by Jesus the night before being betrayed, humiliated, beaten, and crucified was possibly a request to ensure that He would be crucified to fulfill the prophecies about Him and save the lost. What an amazing God we serve!

If you read this article and do not know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, please send us an email (Theologetics3.15@gmail.com). We would love to tell you more about how to have a personal relationship with Him!

http://www.newsweek.com/jesus-was-crucified-because-disciples-were-armed-bible-analysis-suggests-271436

By Clark Campbell
Theologetics.org

Why Did Jesus Want Two Swords Before He Died?

Do All Scientists Today Really Base Their Beliefs On Science?

Gur029b
Anonymous – Camille Flammarion, L’Atmosphere: Météorologie Populaire (Paris, 1888), pp. 163

There are natural laws built into the fabric of our existence. Laws like gravity.

These laws, that can be tested by science, are necessary for our existence and are very finely tuned. So much so, that they are difficult to imagine originating on their own by chance.

One such law is so finely tuned, it has been shown that to have happened naturally on its own, by what we know about our universe without something to finely-tune it (God), would be absurd. To have happened on its own would practically be impossible; this law is the cosmological constant.

Scientific theorists have pointed to other possibilities to get around the need for a fine-tuner, one popular idea is that our universe is just one of an infinite number of universes, each with it’s own naturally developed laws. This means that within this “multiverse”, it isn’t absurd to think that our universe is as finely tuned as we measure it to be because if there are an infinite number of universes out there, then at least some would end up with ideally tuned laws for the existence of life.

Scientifically there is a problem with theories like these; they are not scientific. At least not in the sense that they can be measured, observed, and quantified.

Despite this problem, there are many scientists who entertain this idea of a multiverse or even outright believe it exists. The interesting thing is that many of these same scientists would likely be quick to dismiss the idea that God was the one who fine-tuned our universe making it ideal for life on earth.

The point of this article is that the Bible says that nature itself is evidence that God exists.

Romans 1:20
For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

The scientist who says that a multiverse explains our natural existence occurring by chance or the believer who says that God explains our finely-tuned existence by His eternal power are both making the same statement, and that statement is this:

“I have FAITH!”

If you would personally like to know the God who made our universe, the God who is love, the God who knows who you are and wants you to know Him. If you would like to know Him, just message us (Theologetics3.15@gmail.com), we would love to share!

By Clark Campbell
Theologetics.org

Do All Scientists Today Really Base Their Beliefs On Science?

Jesus, the Bible, the Quran, and the Law of Non-Contradiction

Empty Tomb
Author: Doré, Gustave, 1832-1883 Image Title: Angel at the Door of the Sepulchre, woodcut

The Law of Non-Contradiction, or the law of the excluded middle, states that

(A) cannot be both (A) and (non-A) simultaneously.

It is logical to have different aspects of (A), but not contradictory aspects.
Example: John is a father. John is in New York. These are different aspects of the same person. However, logic demands that John cannot be in New York and not be in New York at the same time. This would be contradictory. This goes against logic.

According to the Bible, Jesus died a public death on the cross and rose three days later. All four Gospels testify to the crucifixion referenced below but for the sake of time we will look at John specifically:

Matthew 27:45-60
Mark 15:33-39
Luke 23:44-49

John 19:16-33
16. Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus.
17. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).
18. There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.
19. Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews.
20. Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek.
21. The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.”
22. Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”
23. When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.
24. “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said, “They divided my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.” So this is what the soldiers did.
25. Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
26. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,”
27. and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
28. Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.”
29. A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.
30. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
31. Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.
32. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other.
33. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.

As you can see, according to the Gospels, Jesus died. In addition to this the Bible is clear on the importance of Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascent into heaven:

1 Corinthians 15 & 1 Timothy 3:16-17

In Islam, the Quran mentions Jesus more than any other Prophet. It states He was born of a virgin (Surah 19), had disciples (5:111-115), ascended into heaven (4:158), and will return as a sign of the end times (43:61). However, unlike the Bible, the Quran states that Jesus did not die:

Quran 4:157-158
That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah”;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:-
Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise;

Now, we go back to the logic stated at the beginning. (A) cannot be both (A) and (non-A). Both can’t be true. Here, we have the Bible (particularly the Gospels) stating Jesus died and the Quran stating that He didn’t. Both cannot be true.

But wait, the Quran makes a couple other very important claims.
–God sent the Gospels

3:3
It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong)
5:46
And in their footsteps We sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Law that had come before him: We sent him the Gospel: therein was guidance and light, and confirmation of the Law that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who fear Allah,

— The word God sends cannot be changed (corrupted)

6:34
Rejected were the messengers before thee: with patience and constancy they bore their rejection and their wrongs, until Our aid did reach them: there is none that can alter the words (and decrees) of Allah. Already hast thou received some account of those messengers,

Yet, Muslims believe that the Gospels have been altered to show that Jesus died.

What can we say then? The last of the four Gospels, John, can be dated around 80 A.D. The Quran is dated 570 years later at around 650 A.D.

Jesus either did die or didn’t die. Both books can’t be right on this subject. However, looking at the Gospels and what the Quran teaches about the Gospels, the only logical conclusion on the matter is Jesus was crucified. Both texts affirm it when logic is applied!

So let us recount the sequence of events:

Logic: (A) cannot be both (A) and (non-A) simultaneously
The Gospels attest to Jesus dying on the cross
While Quran 4:157-158 says that Jesus did not die
But Quran 3:3 & 5:46 says God sent the Gospels
And Quran 6:34 states the word God sends cannot be changed (corrupted)
So we are left with two conclusions:

1. If the Quran is right about Jesus not being crucified, this would mean it is wrong about God’s word being incorruptible, so the Quran itself loses credibility since it states the Gospels and the Quran were both sent by God.

or

2. The Quran, which was written over half a millennium after the Gospels, is simply wrong about Jesus not dying because it changed the account of Christ’s death and resurrection.

If both texts logically affirm the Gospels; and the Gospels state Jesus died a public death, was buried, and raised on the third day, we have one more reason to believe in the authority of the Christian scriptures. We have more reason to place our faith in the atoning work of Jesus, the Son of God!

In his book, AT THE MASTER’S FEET, Sadhu Sundar Singh, Christian missionary, imagines a conversation between a disciple and Jesus in which Jesus says:

The cross is the key to heaven. At the moment when by My baptism I took the cross upon My shoulders for the sake of sinners, heaven was opened, and by means of My thirty-three years bearing of the cross and by death upon it, heaven, which by reason of sin was closed to believers, was for ever opened to them.

By Derrick Stokes
Theologetics.org

Jesus, the Bible, the Quran, and the Law of Non-Contradiction

The Hidden “Verse” about Jesus in Genesis 5

Jesus
Christ Crucified between the Two Thieves: The Three Crosses Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn) (Dutch, 1606–1669) Drypoint, engraving, and scraping; fourth state of five Gift of Felix M. Warburg and his family, 1941 (41.1.33)

The more I learn about God’s Word, the more I stand in awe at how amazing God is. To think, that the book of Genesis, a book written over 1,400 years before Christ was even born, contains specific information about God’s plan to redeem the world by sending his only Son Jesus, it is simply incredible.

This is a subtle foreshadowing of Jesus in Genesis 5, I first heard about this subtlety in a short YouTube video which is linked at the bottom of this article. Now it should be noted that Hebrew cannot be perfectly translated into English, or any language for that matter, so some may disagree on the definitions presented but each one is a definition of the name or the idea behind the name, so I feel the following is pretty amazing!

In Genesis 5 the genealogy from Adam to Noah and a meaning of each name in English is as follows:

1. Adam = Man
2. Seth = Appointed
3. Enosh = Mortal
4. Cainan = Sorrow
5. Mahalalel = The Blessed God
6. Jared = Shall come down
7. Enoch = Teaching
8. Methuselah = His death shall bring
9. Lamech = The despairing
10. Noah = Rest

Some names have multiple meanings and roots but one translation of each of the ten names, one name after the other reads:

Man Appointed Mortal Sorrow,
The Blessed God Shall come down Teaching,
His death shall bring The despairing Rest

So there you have it. The story of Jesus in the 5th chapter of Genesis. These names, starting with Adam from the beginning of creation, to Noah around 2,000 years before Jesus was even sent to earth, outline what God had planned all along to get his children back. Not only that, but this is another example of Christ’s divinity.

I believe that God has a reason for every single word in the Bible, every period and every comma, on more dimensions than we can even imagine. Because of that, I believe the ideas behind these names can be translated this way for a reason, and that reason was to show the world in yet another context, that God loves us so much that he gave his One and only Son to save us from our sin!

1. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Adam.html#.VjxQaKSlr7s
2. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Seth.html#.Vjw8E6Slr7s
3. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Enosh.html#.VjxH26Slr7s
4. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Cainan.html#.VjxHyKSlr7s
5. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Mahalalel.html#.VjxIWqSlr7s
6. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Jared.html#.VjxI8aSlr7s
7. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Enoch.html#.VjxOraSlr7s
8. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Methuselah.html#.VjxPQqSlr7s
9. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Lamech.html#.VjxUrKSlr7s
10. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Noah.html#.VjxQBaSlr7s

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsPhPldS6ys

The Hidden “Verse” about Jesus in Genesis 5

Is Theology and Apologetics Really That Important?

marshill
Saint Paul Preaching on Mars Hill (19th century). T. Shilippoteaux. Engraving. © The Provincial Museum of Alberta. PMA:J99.1968.

“Can’t we just read the Bible and worship God without getting all technical?”

Theology is the study of God and is very important. It helps us to understand the God to whom we are worshiping. Proper worship is based on an accurate understanding of who God is. Anytime anyone says anything about God, what is said is something doctrinal. Theology shapes our image of God and if a person’s theology is false then his or her image of God will also be false, which would ultimately lead to idolatry.

In math, the proper answer will proceed from a proper path.

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 10

In the same way a proper understanding of who God is, what He would do, and what He wouldn’t do; will inform our doxology (praise) and better guide our prayers.

“Are all these big words and facts really that important?”

For salvation? No. Salvation is not found in head knowledge. However, knowing who God is will help us appreciate Him more, understand the Bible better, and also help us discern false teaching.

Often times we have conversations with family, friends, co-workers, church members, and strangers about God or the Bible. At this point you have just assumed the position of theologian. Apologetics, is the term for defending biblical and theological truths. When these discussions become debates or if you’re just defending you position, you have become an apologist. The more “tools” you have in your mental “toolbox” the better equipped you are to make a defense.

“What about witnessing, isn’t it true that arguing will often just hurt your witness?”

Actually no. If a Christian is just trying to win an argument then he or she will probably do more harm than good but if we allow the Holy Spirit to use the knowledge we have to change a non-believer’s false beliefs about the Bible, Christianity, and God, ultimately this head knowledge can make a huge difference in that person’s heart.

With that said, as Christians, we need to make sure the reasoning we use is sound and that we don’t jump on any “bandwagons” when it comes to modern scientific discoveries. Any scientific argument we use to show that the Bible is accurate could one day be shown to be different or even false, and what the Bible was actually saying may be quite different than what we originally thought but the mistake is not apologetics itself, it would be putting too much trust in man’s knowledge and not enough in the Bible.

An example of this is that through false assumptions and faulty dating methods, many modern scientists believe human life has evolved from smaller and less complex lifeforms over millions of years. While it is quite clear in the Bible that this is not the case and it can even be logically and scientifically shown to be false, there are many Christians who have tried to make the argument that God used evolution to create life. By “jumping on that bandwagon” and taking that stance, it actually weakens the validity of God’s Word because God clearly said in Genesis (written as a historical narrative) that he created everything in the universe in 6 literal days. So when a Christian’s argument becomes making the literal in the Bible something figurative, the Bible becomes a fairy tale instead of something real and that is very sad and dangerous.

I would be remiss if I did not include several disclaimers:

  1. Knowledge of God does not equal a relationship with God. Reading a famous person’s autobiography does not mean you had any kind of relationship with them.
  2. Rebutting objections does not equal evangelism. The goal should be to move someone towards the Gospel.
  3. Head knowledge without the knowledge and guidance of the Holy Spirit can lead to haughtiness and pride. You’re not required to attend each argument you’re invited to. Sometimes the Spirit will move you to be quiet even though you’re knowledgeable on the subject. Sometimes the humble unlearned person will gain spiritual insight and uncanny knowledge when they haven’t been taught by any human. Remember “God apposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)
  4. If you read this and want to know more about Jesus, please send us an email at Theologetics3.15@gmail.com we would love to talk with you!
Is Theology and Apologetics Really That Important?