Monthly Archives: September 2014

Our Family Guests

A family has come to visit our home. We welcomed them with open arms and made them a part of our lives. Before they came our family did the things families do. We enjoyed games together, shared stories of the day, shared stories of our past, and filled the evenings with laughter and memories.

With this family in our home, things have changed. They are filled with knowledge of history, sports, celebrities, and any other topic our hearts desire. We sit enraptured by their stories as they tell us of strange places around the world. They tell us stories of strangers far and wide but also know our own acquaintances, dear friends and family. They share stories of these dear ones too, and even pass on deep personal messages from those we love. Sometimes we sit collectively as a family enjoying these stories and other times members of our family pair up with one of our guests so we can spend our own time with them and learn from a seemingly boundless array of knowledge.

While my parents have strict rules in the home of dress and language, my father doesn’t apply these rules to this family of guests. They often use language which we are never allowed to use and tell stories which would draw a sharp rebuke from my father if told by anyone other than these visitors. While we are bound by a strict sense of morality, this family has no such constraints. They speak of all religions freely. They openly boast of immorality of others and, when asked, willingly teach us of the most lewd kind of behavior. My parents don’t always approve of their stories. Sometimes my parents remind me of the ways of righteousness; yet, the family remains within our home.

One of our guests stays in my room. The guest often keeps me up late at night sharing news of the world, gossip about celebrities, and information about my favorite team. Despite my parents wishes to the contrary, my guest lets my friends come into my room and we stay up long into the night. Sometimes we laugh. Sometimes we cry. Sometimes we just talk. Any of my friends are welcome into my room at night when the guest is with me.

The guest also brings in other people into my room. Although my father had strict rules forbidding strangers in my room for my protection, the rules have been dropped when this family came to stay. Many of these visitors to my room are strangers who I barely know. Some are my age but many are older. Sometimes we talk about silly, harmless topics. Other times we talk about things my parents would not approve of. I can have whoever I want in my room at night and sometimes, the guest in my room brings in people who I don’t know and who I know my father would not normally allow in my room.

My father doesn’t stop this family from bringing people into my room at night because the family does the same for him – especially when my mom is not around.

A family came to visit our house and I don’t think they will ever go away. Their name is Internet and the family consists of computer, iPod, smart phone, and video game system.

~ Jeremiah Morris

Never, Ever, Forever

It is difficult for mortal minds of men to even imagine things before time began, but we know that even before the creation the Eternal God existed and purposed things that were to be (Ephesians 1:4, 2 Timothy 1:9, Titus 1:2). Perhaps for some reason it is somewhat easier for us to think of eternity in the future, for we do have more information given to us through the inspired Scriptures concerning that which is beyond the existence of this world and its calculation of time than we have regarding things before time began. But I am convinced than none of us can now fully comprehend those things that are beyond, for it is written, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for them who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

All of our experiences thus far have been so time and space oriented. Even the expressions we use illustrate our limited comprehension. In that grand old song Amazing Grace, we sing “When we’ve been there ten thousand years.” Eternity is not measured by thousands of years. Years only refer to the calculation of earth time. Eternity is eternity.

Yet we must not think of it as if it were time standing still and nothing transpiring. In heaven there will be praise, glory, pleasure, joy, things to do and things to see. I like to think of sitting down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Matthew 8:11). I look forward to seeing Christ sitting at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19, Hebrews 1:3, etc.). Maybe I can even blend my voice with those of the angels singing praises around God’s throne. I want to spend time, no, I want to spend eternity with Jesus. I will spend my allotted time down here serving Him. I will spend eternity with Him then. All things shall be made new (Revelation 21:5).

All the redeemed will dwell in that eternal habitation with God forever. “And this is the promise that He has promised us— eternal life” (1 John 2:25). “And God will wipe away ever tear from their eyes, there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). Never! Ever! Forever! That is for eternity. There shall by no means enter into heaven anything that defiles, or causes abomination or a lie (Revelation 21:27). Satan and all his forces of evil will have forever been cast into the lake of fire and brimstone (Revelation 20:10) never to tempt or trouble God’s people again.

The reward for a fully committed Christian life is truly beyond the capacity of our present minds to comprehend.   There is no earthly place or experience equal to heaven. God is so great, so wonderful, and so loving that He even sent His Son to earth to suffer and die for our sins and to invite us to accept the terms He gave for our salvation and to come spend eternity with Him. We are so unworthy and undeserving. If we do all that we can do to obey Him and serve Him, we still must only count ourselves as sinners saved by the grace of God.

Those who have not believed and obeyed the gospel will have as their reward the wrath of God, flaming fire and everlasting destruction. (Romans 2:8, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). Scoffers today may mock and joke about hell, but God’s word reveals that the subject of hell is not a matter to take lightly, Consider the Biblical descriptions of hell: “unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:12); “destruction’’ (Matthew 7:13); “outer darkness,” “weeping” and “gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:12); destruction of “both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28); “furnace of fire” and “wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:50); the “condemnation of hell” (Matthew 23:33) “where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched” (Mark. 9:44); “everlasting destruction” (2 Thessalonians 1:9); “tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10); “cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15), “the lake which burns with fire and brimstone.” (Revelation 21:8).

The wording of Matthew 25:46 is interesting: “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” I have wondered why the translators have used two different words for the same word in the original Greek text. The word “everlasting” and the word “eternal” are identically the same in the Greek.   Heaven and hell are both of the same duration.   Both are eternal.

God has told us of the blessings He has for the redeemed and has warned us of the consequences of failing to obey Him. This information should not only motivate us to surrender our all to Him but also move us with concern for lost souls around us. Christ was so concerned about lost souls that He died to make salvation possible for all who would obey Him. If we have the mind of Christ, we will earnestly tell others of His love and His plan for their salvation.

~ Thomas D. Dennis

The Straw Man of Atheism

The term “Straw Man” as defined by Webster is “a weak argument or opposing view set up by a debater so that he may attack it and gain an apparent victory.” A common argument of atheism used to try to refute the existence of God is one such “straw man.” It’s sometimes called The Problem of Evil. The argument states an all loving and all powerful God could and would not allow evil and pain to afflict His creation. But since evil and pain do exist, God must not. While we will see that this is a straw man argument, considerations of evil, pain and suffering are among the most cited explanations for disbelief in God, both for “educated” philosophers and for the general public.

We can sympathize with Ivan Karamazov as he described the earth as one soaked through with human tears. Evil and pain affect us all. If tears were ink, the whole Bible could have been written with the tears of the saints.

Many claim to be Atheists. I am not sure that any absolute atheists exist, although many claim to be. Those who claim to be atheists fall into two camps: those who do not believe and those who do not want to believe there is a God. Others hedge their bet even further by claiming agnosticism (we can’t know if God exists) as their conviction.

Whichever camp they are in, their arguments crumble under their own weight. Their argument is that the God of Christianity cannot exist because evil, pain, and suffering do exist. And since these elements obviously exist, the loving and benevolent God of the Bible must not exist, because an all loving, and all powerful God would simply not allow the evil and injustice we see to exist.

First of all we must note that evil, pain, and suffering are not equivalents nor codependent. Each can exist without the other and can have different, causal effects. It is quite possible that protective pain was and is available to man prior to or without evil entering the world and therefore separate from evil. But let’s look at each of these elements in this straw man argument against the existence of God.

Evil

Evil can exist or be recognized only if there is moral right and good. Without moral law we would have no standard by which to define or recognize what is good and therefore what is evil. Since moral law must exist for good and evil to be known, there must be a source of this moral law. For there to be a moral law there must be a moral law giver or Higher Power. Therefore, in an ironic way, the presence of evil demands that God, a Higher Power which gives us moral law, exist. Evil could not exist without a definer of what is evil. This very argument of the atheist proves the impossibility of their argument.

Also, they ask, who created evil? The atheists argue: If God created all things then He must have created evil, but the God of the Bible could not do this. They argue that a totally good God would not produce evil. I believe this argument to be true.

But God did not created evil because evil is not a created thing. In fact, it is not a thing at all but rather the absence of a thing (goodness). Just as God did not create darkness because darkness is the absence of a thing (light), He did not create evil. When we cool something we do not add cold, rather we remove heat. God did not create cold because it is an absence also, the absence of heat rather than a thing. This same principle that God placed in the natural world also carries into the spiritual world. In James 4:17, we read, “Therefore to him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin.” Sin is the absence of good or righteousness. With these examples we can see how evil is an absence: the absence of good. Likewise, evil is not a created thing but the absence of a created thing (good).

To claim that God created evil is a “Straw Man.” The skeptics’ argument again falls under its own weight.

Pain

Pain does not nullify the existence of God because pain is not always the result of evil. God himself has known pain but not evil. On the cross, in the person of Christ, pain was God’s. He felt it acutely, absorbed it personally and endured it deeply. True, man’s sin has brought more pain into the world (Genesis 3), but pain may have preceded evil on earth. Pain is not always a punishment or an undesirable thing. It can be a blessing given by God to warn and protect us. People who truly feel no pain are oblivious to injury for example. To have created man and the animal kingdom without access to pain before the “fall” would have robbed them of one of the greatest protective blessings of all.

Therefore, pain, rather than disproving God, is one of the great proofs that a loving, caring God exists and protects us.

Suffering

While evil can bring about suffering and pain can result in suffering, they are, not synonymous. Suffering can occur without evil and protective pain can guard us from greater suffering. Human reasoning considers them as bad. Godly wisdom sees that they can be great teachers of righteousness. Job suffered although he did no evil. Joseph, Daniel, the Prophets, Paul, and others were all examples for drawing nearer to God through suffering. And we can attest to this in our own lives.

So the atheistic argument that evil, pain, and suffering invalidate the existence of a loving God crumble under their own weight. In fact, they not only crumble but prove the very Being they are designed to disprove.

It is because there is a God that we will be able to escape all evil and pain someday. Without God we are doomed to nothing but evil and pain. Truly the wisdom of man is foolishness and sadly the wisdom of God is foolishness to many men.

~ John Lee