Confident Faith - August 2018

You are going to have a wonderful opportunity to stand for the unborn as rhetoric over abortion heats up in confirmation proceedings for the recent Supreme Court Justice nominee. Many will cry for honoring the Supreme Court's 1973 ruling in Rowe v. Wade as settled judicial precedent seeking a commitment to not review and possibly reverse that opinion. But are there good reasons a court opinion should be reviewed? What if answers to some of the cornerstone assumptions have changed?

Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun wrote in his Rowe v. Wade majority opinion, "The judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to… resolve the difficult question of when life begins… since those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus."

Consider this story: You are the foreman on a demolition crew about to collapse a ten story parking garage. It also happens to be "Bring your kids to work day", so you brought your 8 year-old daughter, Suzie, and 6 year-old son, Mike, to work so they can see what you do.

You've just completed a top to bottom walkthrough of the structure and are about to give the "Blow it" command when you realize your daughter and son are missing. You last saw them when they were walking with you through the structure.

Would you go ahead and give the "Blow it" command given the uncertainty of the location of your children and the possibility they might be playing in the structure? Of course not. You know the explosions and the collapse of the building on them would be certain death if they are in there. You would hold the demo and go look for your children.

In his majority opinion, Justice Blackmun is actually saying that since there was no consensus when life began, it's ok to kill the unborn. In other words, I don't know where my children are but let's go ahead and blow the structure.

Consider Justice Blackmun's qualifier, "at this point in the development of man’s knowledge." In the intervening 45 years we have learned a lot about the unborn - to the point that nearly every Embryology textbook affirms that "life begins at conception." DNA testing affirms the unborn are human beings from conception. We now know the unborn is a separate and distinct human being from the mother. That is settled science.

Today there is more than sufficient evidence and harmony in science, philosophy, and religion that the unborn is a human being from conception and with a right to life. This compels us to give an answer contrary to the one Justice Blackmun reached. Stop the demolition! There's a precious human person in there!

Be prepared to stand for the unborn. Below are some links to get more details on the scientific and the philosophical case for life:
http://www.caseforlife.com/
https://www.newyorkapologetics.com/its-false-to-claim-that-no-one-knows-when-life-begins/

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Confident Faith - July 2018

Jesus was the #1 practioner of Apologetics in the Bible. That may come as a surprise to some. This article and following articles will show some of the ways Jesus and his followers used Apologetics and Apologetic techniques.

One of Jesus favorite Apologetic techniques was to ask questions. He asked 284 questions during evangelistic conversations in the Gospels! He knew the power of asking question to understand and clarify issues and to discern the heart of those he was speaking to. Making conclusions in question form is more persuasive than making statements. Asking questions also helps keep you in control of the conversation by keeping the other person on the "hot seat." See the book, "Tactics", by Greg Koukl, in the church library.

Jesus told people to believe he was the eternal Son of God on the evidence (signs/miracles) even if they did not believe his words. See John 10:37-38, John 10:25. There are two "revelations" - General and Special. General revelation is nature and the created order that points us to God such that none has an excuse from condemnation (Rom 1:18-20). Special revelation refers to God's Word, the Bible, the revelation of Jesus. Both revelations are evidential. The Bible's authenticity is supported by overwhelming evidence. See "God's Crime Scene" and "Cold-Case Christianity" by J. Warner Wallace in the church library.

Jesus engaged skeptics with reason and logic. He made the case for who he was and fully expected those who heard him to think and respond appropriately. Jesus did not expect faith in the absence of reasons to believe. The best definition of true Biblical faith I've seen is "active trust in what we have sufficient reason/evidence to believe is true". It's from a feeble first step of faith in Jesus that the Holy Spirit ignites a blaze of regeneration. Faith is not less than reason/evidence and truth though the forms and source of reason/evidence should change from child to Christian maturity.

If Apologetics and Apologetic techniques were the tools used by Jesus and his followers, maybe they should be added to your evangelistic kit, too. There are many Apologetic resources in the church library to help you develop a more Confident Faith.

Harold

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Confident Faith - June 2018

"When Jesus saw her [Mary] weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled." (John 11:33, NIV)

"Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance." (John 11:38, NIV)

Here are comments on these verses from Nancy Pearcey's latest book, "Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions About Life and Sexuality", page 38: (emphasis mine)

"Why did Jesus weep at the tomb of Lazarus even though he knew he was about to raise him from the dead? Because "the beautiful body was split apart." The text says twice that Jesus was "deeply moved in spirit and troubled" (John 11:33, 38). In the original Greek, this phrase actually means furious indignation. It was used, for example, of war horses rearing up just before charging into battle. Os Guinness, formerly at L’Abri, explains: Standing before the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus "is outraged. Why? Evil is not normal." The world was created good and beautiful. But now "he’d entered his Father’s world that had become ruined and broken. And his reaction? He was furious." Jesus wept at the pain and sorrow caused by the enemy invasion that had devastated his beautiful creation.

Christians are never admonished to accept death as a natural part of creation..."

Particularly with the recent student-perpetrated school shootings, we see universal concensus that these deaths were tragic and WRONG! We see rage directed at guns, lax procedures, loose laws, ... Jesus was enraged, too, but he saw the true culprit, sin, and set his face to the cross to become the final solution.

As conversations about these tragedies come up with co-workers, friends, and family, use the wrongness and anger they rightly feel as an entre to tell them that Jesus shared both their tears AND their anger. Only in Jesus will we find meaning, peace, and true comfort.

STUDY the Word. KNOW the Word. APPLY the Word. That's Confident Faith.

Harold

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Confident Faith - May 2018

Even back in the dark ages of 1965, the world knew love was the answer. Dionne Warwick sang "What the World Needs Now Is Love Sweet Love" to great acclaim. But there are two loves - the John 3:16 love of God and the love of men. Which does the world really need?

Two Loves

There is a love always giving. There is a love that only takes.

There is a love suffering wrong. There is a love that demands it's way.

There is a love building up. There is a love that tears down.

There is a love leading to freedom. There is a love that enslaves.

There is a love cherishing truth. There is a love that deceives.

There is a love opening blind eyes. There is a love that hates light.

There is love running. There is love indignant.

There is love encouraging. There is a love that crushes the bruised reed.

There is love courting your soul. There is love skin deep.

There is a love spanning eternity. There is a love the span of dust.

There is true love hanging on a cross. There is love of men, a better hate.

Who will show the world the more excellent way?

Harold

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Confident Faith - April 2018

The Scandal of Sheer Grace

I am continually and overwhelmingly amazed by Grace. At this Easter season I want to share an article by Trevin Wax. The article may be found here - https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevin-wax/scandal-sheer-grace/

Two criminals hang next to Jesus. One mocks him, but the other recognizes his innocence. And the repentant criminal, an outcast from society and written off by everyone (whose name we don’t even know) receives eternal life. He reaches out in faith to the Savior suffering next to him and hears, "Today you will be with me in paradise."

The salvation of the thief on the cross gives hope to every sinner. It’s an astounding picture of the sheer grace of God. This account tells us that even the worst of the worst—someone guilty of countless crimes—can receive forgiveness through Jesus and access to God. The cross of Christ gives anyone who repents—including the vilest offender—a pardon.

Two Scandals: Exclusivity and Forgiveness

In our day, it’s distasteful to believe the traditional Christian teaching that Jesus is the only way to God. There must be other ways! Surely a good person who doesn’t do too many bad things in this life isn’t going to face judgment after death, right? People in our day find it offensive to believe that good people who die without trusting in Christ will face eternal condemnation.

Perhaps we should counter that objection with a bigger one: That’s only half of it! Yes, Christians believe that a nice, moral person who dies without Jesus is lost forever. But you know what else we believe? The worst criminal in history who dies as a repentant person, trusting in Jesus, is saved.

Consider the example of Jeffrey Dahmer, the notorious serial killer who murdered and dismembered 17 men and boys. His crimes are the most horrifying things you can imagine. They defy comprehension. Dahmer was captured in 1991 and imprisoned. He died in 1994 when a fellow inmate beat him to death. But before he died, when he was in prison, it is said he repented of his sinful past and put his faith in Christ.

Could it be possible that Jeffrey Dahmer, one of the most evil men to ever live, was granted eternal life? And could it be possible that a sweet old lady who never trusts in Christ would face judgment?

If that scenario bothers you (because you think the awful criminal deserves eternal judgment, but the kind, decent woman deserves eternal life), you haven’t truly grasped just how radical the gospel of grace is. It means that, deep down, you still think good people go to heaven and bad people to go hell.

But the gospel shatters that whole way of thinking. Scripturally speaking, there are no good people. We all have sinned. We have turned away like sheep and gone astray. We all have raised a fist toward our Maker to say, "I want my life my way!"

The radical message of the gospel is that our problem—sin—is worse than anything we could ever imagine. But also that the solution—grace—is better than anything we could ever deserve. Through repentance and faith, any sinner no matter how great the offense receives access to God through the cross of Jesus Christ. Hell is full of people who think they deserve heaven. Heaven is full of people who know they deserve hell.

We’re all criminals, and we’re all on one side of the cross or the other from Jesus. Either we’re like the criminal who mocks the Savior and trusts in himself, or we’re like the criminal who whispers: "I deserve this fate. Remember me, Lord, in your kingdom."

The cross gives anyone who believes access to God through repentance and faith. It isn’t the magnitude of the crimes, but the magnitude of God’s grace that matters for salvation.

Torn Curtain and Divine Access

The Gospel of Luke tells us that when Jesus died, the curtain was torn. The veil in the temple that separated the holiest part of the temple from the rest of the building was ripped from top to bottom, in order to signify that anyone could now come into God’s throne room of grace. Hebrews 10:19-22:

"Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus—he has inaugurated for us a new and living way through the curtain (that is, through his flesh)—and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water."

Charles Spurgeon put it this way:

"There is an entrance made for the greatest sinners. If there had only been a small hole cut through it, the lesser offenders might have crept through; but what an act of abounding mercy is this, that the veil is rent in the midst, from top to bottom, so the chief of sinners may find ample passage!"

Access is available to all. The worst offenders. The most evil of sinners. Mercy and grace and forgiveness—all available through the cross of Jesus. He has taken the judgment that the worst sinner deserves. And that’s the scandal of sheer grace that should drive us to our knees in gratitude and worship.

Harold

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