Friday, 5/29/20 – Friday Tough Question

Ravi Answers…

20200528_141617Last week we lost that great apologist of the faith, Ravi Zacharias. Ravi was masterful in giving an educated and reasoned response to many of the deepest questions of humanity.

Ravi distilled mankind’s lostness into four fundamental and universal questions. They touch upon four fundamental aspects of human experience and have been matters of religious and philosophical debate throughout human history. They are questions of Origin, Morality, Meaning and Destiny.

Origin: “How did I come into being?
Morality: “How can I determine right and wrong?
Meaning: “What is the purpose of life itself?
Destiny: “What happens when I die?

20200528_141726Ravi argued that Jesus is the Answer to them all! This was not merely a matter of opinion for Ravi, but of conviction. “Opinions are something that you hold to; Convictions are those which hold you,” he said. Ravi had experienced the dramatic life transforming power of Jesus Christ.

Today, I would like to share with you a few other quotations of this great brother in Christ…

On God’s Purpose and Calling…
“The world was made for the body. The body was made for the soul. And the soul was made for God.”

“There is no greater discovery than seeing God as the author of your destiny.”

On Truth…
“We have a right to believe whatever we want, but not everything we believe is right.”
“Respect for the right of another to be wrong does not mean that the wrong is right.”
“Truth by definition excludes.”

On God’s Presence…
“I think the reason we sometimes have the false sense that God is so far away is because that is where we have put him. We have kept him at a distance, and then when we are in need and call on him in prayer, we wonder where he is. He is exactly where we left him.”

On Faith…
“…If you do not believe that God is in control and has formed you for a purpose, then you will flounder on the high seas of purposelessness, drowning in the currents and drifting further into nothingness.”

On Love…
“…if truth is not undergirded by love, it makes the possessor of that truth obnoxious and the truth repulsive.”

On Life…
“…meaninglessness does not come from being weary of pain; meaninglessness comes from being weary of pleasure… that is why we find ourselves emptied of meaning with our pantries still full.”

“Beginning well is a momentary thing; finishing well is a lifelong thing.”

20200528_141645Ravi Zacharias was diagnosed with a rare, malignant spinal cancer in March, 2020. He died at age 74 at his home in Atlanta on May 19, 2020.

We shall miss him.

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 5/22/20 – Friday Tough Question

Does God know who will be saved? Do we really “choose” hell?

silhouette of man standing on rock under starry night

If we are going to ask the question “Does God know who will ultimately become saved?” we must realize there are two possible answers:

“Yes, God does know who will be saved,” or
“No, God does not know who will be saved.”

Let’s begin by reminding ourselves of the attributes of God.

God we understand to be Infinite, in other words He is in every place. He is also understood to be Eternal. This means He exists from our finite human perspective in every “time.” In other words God exists in yesterday, today, and tomorrow — not that He existed yesterday exists today and will exist tomorrow, but that He exists concurrently in all of these. This is why it can be said that Jesus Christ was “the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world” (Rev. 13:8) – that’s before mankind was created… before any possibility of human sin.

sky space dark galaxy

God is also understood to be Omniscient, which means all-knowing. This attribute alone seems to necessitate that God knows who will be saved. Adding the fact of his eternality we understand He exists in our future just as truly as He is exists now in our present. He is thus as equally aware of those coming to Christ now as He is of those who (from our perspective) will come to Christ in what (from our perspective) we call the future.

Given the fact of these divine attributes and the fact there are two possible answers to the question, the matter may simply be boiled down to this: Which answer seems most reasonable? That is, which is the most consistent with the attributes of God?

man standing near snow field

We are drawn to only one possible conclusion: God does indeed know who will be saved. But be clear about this: the fact of His knowing is in no way causative – i.e. He is not making them become saved, He just knows. We have free will and we can choose to or choose not to turn to Christ, to trust His pure sacrifice efficacious to atone, to take Him as Lord as well as Saviour. The fact that God knows already what we will decide does not diminish the fact of our free will.

We can understand this concept better by looking backwards. If I saw my wife having a fried egg yesterday for breakfast I can know that fact today. This is possible because I consciously existed yesterday as much as I do today as well. God is not so limited. He consciously exists tomorrow as much as He does in any temporal period. Remember, He created time as well as space (Gen. 1).

sad mature businessman thinking about problems in living room

But this understanding does not necessitate God causing known things in our future to occur. Just as my past knowing what my wife chose to have for breakfast is in no way causative of her decision. She freely decided to have an egg. She could have chosen to have something else, something unhealthy that would make her sick. But she chose an egg, nutritious, wholesome.

Consequences follow our choices and though God knows our decisions past and future He does not make them happen. He does however make every effort to draw us to the choice that is good for us, and that choice is Christ.

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 5/15/20 – Question: What have I left to hope upon?

What have I left to hope upon?

man in black jacket standing in front of grave

As I write this on Thursday, May 14 the Covid-19 world-wide death toll has reached 300,000. Personally, within the past few weeks four persons have died from other causes among our sphere of relatives and friends. One other has come very near death, but thanks to the prayers of many and grace of the Lord, is recovering.

Additionally, numerous families are experiencing domestic tensions as emotions are aggravated by prolonged isolation stress. Depression affects many. Amid such loss and disruption it is easy to feel helpless… even hopeless. Even believers may be tempted to ask, “What have I left to hope upon?”

Does that surprise you? It ought not. Several of God’s most noted servants experienced this depth of depression…

gray scale photo of male with beard

Moses was depressed. He cried, “But now, please forgive their sin – but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.” (Exod. 32:32).

Elijah was depressed. He complained, “I have had enough Lord… Take my life, I am no better than my ancestors.” (1 Kings 19:4).

David was depressed many times and for many reasons: the death of his sons, the guilt of his sins, the need for God’s touch. He prayed, “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Ps. 42:11).

man in black shirt in grayscale photo

Job was depressed. He lamented, “Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb?” (Job 3:11). “I have no peace, no quietness, I have no rest, but only turmoil.” (Job 3:26). “Terrors overwhelm me…my life ebbs away, days of suffering grip me. Night pierces my bones, my gnawing pains never rest.” (Job 30:15-17)

Jeremiah was depressed. He moaned, “Cursed be the day I was born…why did I ever come out of the womb to see trouble and sorrow and to end my days in shame?” (Jer. 20:14, 18).

Jesus was depressed too! He said to His disciples, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death” (Mark 14:34), and Luke records how, as He wrestled in prayer with the Father, “His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:44).

Yet each of the above godly men found hope and experienced great blessing.

Moses & Elijah: It is Interesting to me that these two most often cited examples of servants of God who experienced depression ended up being the two most honored and exalted of men experiencing divine intervention at the ends of their earthy lives (God buried Moses and raptured Elijah) and it was these two saints who were later privileged to stand with the Lord on the mount of transfiguration!

white and black goats

David repeatedly drew strength from God: “My soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” (Ps. 62:5-6).

Job yet testified: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God” (Job 19:25-26). “…He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10).

Jeremiah took hope in His own prophecy for Israel: “…I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jer. 29:11).

background burn burnt close up

Yes, fiery trials accompanying in this life, but they should not surprise us. “Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you,” wrote Peter (1 Pet. 4:12). Jesus told us in advance “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33a), But what does He add? “Take heart!” He says. “I have overcome the world.” (v33b).

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 5/8/20 – Friday Tough Question

Are these days of purpose?

white space ship and brown planet
Photo by SpaceX

They say a trip to Mars would require about seven months of space travel. On arrival the crew in full ‘Mars-suits’ would leave their travel quarters and descend to the planet’s surface in a specially designed landing capsule. Other capsules would arrive bringing many items needed by the pioneer colony: life support generators, food, solar panels, parts, etc.. Inflatable habitats and two surface ‘Rovers’ would also be sent.

By now most of us have found several weeks of living in a restricted space quite difficult. Imagine making it a lifestyle! Most of us I’m sure have realized we don’t have “the right stuff” for an expedition to become one of the first settlers on Mars. For the most part we would all make lousy Martians.

sky earth galaxy universe

So, if these days are not intended as training for Mars, for what are these days intended? Surely they are days of purpose, for they have come upon the whole planet, planet Earth. The pretty blue one that stands out in this solar system by its color and inhabitants — inhabitants made after the Image of God, the Maker of the entire universe! Yes, surely these days of isolation and lull are intended for something.

sun peaking over clouds

Allow me to propose these days are indeed intended as a training for us to inhabit a new world, a preparation time for a journey far more spectacular that a seven month trip to Mars. In fact, we have been traveling towards a new world all our lives. None of us will be staying here unendingly. Each will arrive at that world for which he or she has used that lifetime to prepare.

It is my prayer that as many as will shall use these days wisely, “redeeming the time” as urged the apostle (Eph. 5:16). “Making the most of every opportunity,” making the most of isolation and lull. Those who prepare well by repentance, and faith, and submission, and obedience will arrive at the best world… Citizens of “a better country, a heavenly one” (Heb. 11:16). They will be not Martians, but Christians.

Prepare well….

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 5/1/20 – Friday Question: Is the 40 Days Theory True?

The Pandemic and the 40 Days Theory, is it True?

concept numbers red background style

There is a theory circulating the internet that suggests the duration of the Coronavirus lockdown is a rather Biblical 40 days. The item opens with the statement: “The official lockdown started March 23 and will likely end May 1st. That is EXACTLY 40 days.”

From this premise the theory goes on to draw attention to the many instances in scripture where the number 40 appears to indicate divine actions: the duration of the flood, the years of the wilderness wanderings, the days Moses spent on Mt. Sinai, the number of days Jesus fasted in the desert, and other examples. The item goes on to state “…whenever the number 40 appears in the Bible, there is a ‘change’.”

a man reading indoor

I most certainly do believe God is shaking this planet and calling us to Him, and scripture certainly speaks of worsening pestilence as the “labor pains” of the approaching Armageddon quicken. (Matt. 24:7; Luke 21:11). But it disturbs me when I see truth supported by a poor argument. We know the events of the last days by their clear reference in the scriptures – not because of some tantalizing hunch about numbers.

_111717764_americas_countries_lockdown_cv_640-ncThis theory is based on a false premise! March 23 is NOT representative of any “official lockdown” date. It may have been in some locale, but certainly not globally. Each country tells a different story and has a different lockdown date if indeed it has one at all; some areas did not initiate a lockdown. Click on the link below for charts showing country by country. (I’ve included one as an example.)

According to the theory, today, May 1, is presumed to be the end date of this 40 day lockdown period. This is also false. There will be no uniform “end date.” Rather, each area will make its own determination when to begin a gradual, phased in, easing of restrictions.

Yet regardless of what a 40-day period has or does not have to do with the Covid-19 pandemic it is certainly clear that the aftermath will bring changes.

woman in a red dress looking at the sunset

The theory goes on to draw out further connections to the number 40 — such as the year 2020 (20+20) totalling 40 – but to me these only further cheapen the truth that God is shaking this earth. We must not let the weakness of this theory’s foundation cause us to doubt the truth of its conclusion. Christ is coming again, and He is giving His creation every opportunity to give up their selfish pursuits and turn to Him, acknowledging He is Lord and Master of all, our only Saviour from inevitable wrath to come. Turn to Him today.

Press on…

Link to BBC charts showing dates and severity of internal restricted activity by country:
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-52103747

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 4/24/20 – Question: Why does God call Himself by such a Strange Name?

Why does God call Himself by such a Strange Name?

background burn burnt close up

We first learn of this Name back in Exodus 3. Moses is out tending the flocks of His father-in-law Jethro when his attention is drawn aside by a strange sight. A bush wildly ablaze yet seems undamaged by the flames! He ventures closer for a look.

The image was all God’s way of catching Moses’ attention. God had a new job for Moses: to set free his captive fellow-Hebrews.

At first Moses protested, but eventually he relents, and he asks, “Who should I tell them has sent me?” God replies, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” (v. 14).

What an odd Name indeed!

red and orange fire

Well, I could go into the Tetragrammaton – a big word that means Tetra (Four) and Gramma (letter) and ton, what… maybe because the word weighs a ton! 😃 But it means the four-letter inscription YHWH or JHVH from which we get Yahweh or Jehovah. Many Bibles use the capitalized LORD whenever the word appears – some 6,000 times in scripture!

OK, but I’m NOT planning to get into that.

I suppose if we were to give the Almighty God a Name ourselves we might come up with something that describes His Grace to us… His Power in Creation… His Vastness in space.

green grasshopper

But that would be rather self-serving. How so? Well, not all of God’s manifestation or creation has to do with these things. Neither angels nor demons know anything of God’s Grace. A fish knows little of God’s Power. Only mankind has awed at the Vastness of space. These thoughts are far from grasshoppers. And what of God before Creation? — How are we to describe Him then? When you think of it, to describe Him in terms of His Eternal Self-Existence is indeed the one great reality that may define Him to all: eternal past, present, and eternal future.

He is
אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה.
I AM WHO I AM

Throughout human history we have given God many additional names describing his interactions with us. Here is just a very partial starter list…

El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty)
El Elyon (The Most High God)
Adonai (Lord, Master)
Yahweh (Lord, Jehovah)
Jehovah Nissi (The Lord My Banner)
Jehovah Raah (The Lord My Shepherd)
Jehovah Rapha (The Lord That Heals)
Jehovah Shammah (The Lord Is There)
Jehovah Tsidkenu (The Lord Our Righteousness)
Jehovah Mekoddishkem (The Lord Who Sanctifies You)
El Olam (The Everlasting God)
Elohim (God)
Qanna (Jealous)
Jehovah Jireh (The Lord Will Provide)
Jehovah Shalom (The Lord Is Peace)
Jehovah Sabaoth (The Lord of Hosts

Thinking on these Great Names of God in addition to His Eternal pre-existing and unchanging Nature can bring us hope and peace as we face the trials of this life.

“[They] exclaimed, “…Who do you think you are?”
”Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:52, 58).

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Heb. 13:8).

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 4/17/20 – Friday Tough Question

Where is Jesus’ human body?

photo of woman studying anatomy

The questioner here knows that Jesus rose from the tomb and ascended to the Father, but also knows that Jesus’ resurrected body is very different indeed than the body that expired on the cross. When Mary Magdalene, the first person to see the resurrected Christ, encountered Him He said to her “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.” (John 20:17). There was clearly something different about His post-resurrection form.

Further evidence of the uniqueness of this body is found in verses which follow. Drop down to verse 19 and we read,

“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19).

wooden door of a bricked wall

The doors were locked, yet Jesus entered. Did He walk through solid? Materialize? Truly this was a special sort of body, yet it still bore the nail scars and bodily wounds of His crucifixion (see John 20:20, 26-28.)

Luke recounts how just before this, two disciples walking en-route to Emmaus encountered Jesus. They chatted and ate with Him then witnessed Him simply disappear:

“As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them… When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.” (Luke 24:15, 30-31).

There is no record of Jesus needing or taking rest during the forty days He appeared to people following His resurrection, even though during this time He was quite active: “To these he also presented himself alive, after his suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3).

white clouds and blue sky

And it was this body which the disciples watched ascend into Heaven (Acts 1:9-11) – where no flesh can enter (1 Cor. 15:50)!

So where did the battered human body of Jesus go?

The glorious answer to this is that these bodies are one and the same! Jesus resurrection is a demonstration of the believers own resurrection. The believer’s mortal body will be transformed into a heaven-ready eternal body. Paul describes this in detail,

I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. (1 Cor. 15:50-53). (See also 2 Cor. 5:1-4).
According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thess. 4:15-17).

In this world we are but worms…. worms in cocoon. One glorious day we will emerge, no longer the worm, but transformed by the miracle-working grace and love of God!

Crawl on…

Note: now Jesus’ form is even more glorious… John caught a glimpse and fell prostrate! (see Rev. 1:12-17a; 19:11-16).

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.