Second Century Christian Apologist


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Describe Christian apologetics in the second century

    Apologetics in the second century took place from within, as they defended their faith from Gnosticism and from without as they fought to be recognized as, not only a legitimate religion, but “…as superior to the idolatry of the pagans and the ritualistic worship of the Jews.”[1] However, I see issues of great concerns, even in some of the apologetic efforts that were taking place.

    Tatian, a student of Justin Martyr, for example, composed a harmony of the four Gospels known as the Diatessaron. For two centuries this harmonization became the standard form of the Gospel in the Syriac-speaking areas.[2] I rather we go directly into the Word of God for ourselves.

    Other issues of concerns in second-century apologetics are found in Athenagoras’ approach; even as he argued the superiority of Christianity over paganism, in his dispute concerning the resurrection he argues from the prospective of nature and reason and refuses to utilize Scripture.[3] Finally, another issue of concern was Theophilus’ approach as he speaks of Logos, but avoid speaking about Jesus and also present the narrative of the creation in Genesis as allegoric.

    I find these approaches to apologetics troubling and perhaps as original seeds from some of the theological and doctrinal mess we see in our day.

What were the accusations against Christians?

    The Bible tells us in Acts 8:1 that there was great persecution against the church. It seems like the devil did not waste any time in trying to destroy the church from the very beginning. The attack came from outside, in the form of persecution and false accusations and, from within, in the form of heresy. Persecution aroused as Christianity began to shapeup her own identity away from Judaism. There were four specific accusations against Christians; all of these accusations were grotesque misinterpretations of our faith and practices. They accused us of: 1) incest, 2) cannibalism, 3) atheism and 4) of being a subversive group.

How did apologists like Justin respond?

    Ferguson introduces Justin Martyr as arguably the most important and most influential apologist of the second century.[4] This man “fought his apologetics battles on four fronts: against pagan intellectuals, the state, the Jews, and heretics.”[5] He addressed the four accusations against Christianity head on, presenting a picture of Christian people as being indeed very moral people. Justin also utilized the prophesies in Scripture to defend his case. Justin dances very closely with philosophy and mythology in order to present Christianity to the lost. He was bold in addressing pagan practices as demonic. That boldness cost him making his last name a reality in his life. No doubts, much to admired when it comes down to Justin’s apologetics.

What apologetic principles could be used today in a modern context?

    We most remember that according to First Peter 3:15, we are called to “…be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.” (KJV) The word “asketh” here has a very interesting definition; it comes from the Greek word, αἰτέω aitéō; fut. aitḗsō. meaning, “to ask, request, beg. The seeking by the inferior from the superior (Acts 12:20); by a beggar from the giver (Acts 3:2); by the child from the parent (Matt. 7:9); by man from God (Matt. 7:7; James 1:5; 1 John 3:22).”[6]      I can conclude by this definition that these are folks that are asking sincere questions concerning our faith. This definition is perhaps describing someone who is really interested in the reason why our hope rests in God. These are not the truth suppressors describe in Romans 1:18.[7]

    I say all this to say that we can’t leave the Word of God out; we are not defending God, He does not need any defending from us; we are defending our faith. I believe that it is vitally important to follow the example of Justin Martyr. It is obvious that this man was a student of God’s Word, an educated man, who was able to present the truth of God’s Word in an intelligent and relevant way for his time. He used philosophy and mythology, as those were important concepts of his time. However, he presented the power and accuracy of the prophesies in God’s Word.

    I believe that everything that can be use for our apologetics is useful, whether is through the knowledge of the cosmos, physic, mathematics and science in general; nevertheless we must not fall into the trap of the atheist, humanist and agnostics of our day.

    We must never shy away from utilizing God’s Word. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 (KJV)

[1] Everett Ferguson, Church History, Volume One: From Christ to the Pre-Reformation: The Rise and Growth of the Church in Its Cultural, Intellectual, and Political Context, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2013), 70

[2] Ibid, 71

[3] Ibid, 71

[4] Everett Ferguson, Church History, Volume One: From Christ to the Pre-Reformation, 71

[5] Ibid, 72

[6] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[7] For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; (KJV)

Christians Living Secular


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A local pastor that I dearly love shared with me a very alarming and almost laughable statistics; he told me that forty years ago 70% of Americans felt that that they were sure that heaven was their final destination after death. The same survey was done recently and the number remains the same. Nevertheless, today we have less Americans reading and studying the Scriptures, less Americans participating in Church life and most alarming, less American praying. How can we call ourselves Christians without a prayer life?

         The reality is that many are embracing a secular lifestyle. In its basic definitions the word secular means, without the influence of any spirituality. You can’t find God in their conversations, you can’t find God in what they listen to, you can’t find God in what they watch, you can’t find God in their finances and you can’t find God in their service. They “GO TO CHURCH”, not realizing that they are suppose to be the church. Their Christianity has become whatever happens in those two hours of service on Sundays.

         The coming together of the saints is a Biblical mandate; every time we come together in Jesus name, we are having church. The building or the place we come together in His name is totally irrelevant. The problem is that many folks in the church are not seeking God and have no desire of developing true relationship with brothers and sisters in the Lord. We are called to be a family you know!

         Have you taken a good look at your kids? Are they excited about God? Are they praying and studying the Scriptures? or are they on their phones texting, in social media and throwing selfies every time they get a chance as if they are the center of the world? The devil has many of our young people, even in our churches, lost in such vanity. They to are living secular lives.

         Christianity is real; Christianity is the only true religion that makes sense of the whole universe and our purpose in it. Christianity is not boring; unprepared pastors and teachers are making Christianity boring because they teach the same thing over and over. Christianity is not simple; Christianity is filled with excitement and open invitation to go into the deep things of God. Our Bible, our history, the power of God, the prophetic, His presence, the orthodoxy of our faith and the joy of service are just some of the many areas of our faith that are soul fulfilling.

         Our God is bigger than the lies of the secular world; our God is the real deal. It is a lie from hell that has many thinking that they can live lives without God; they are deceived, even in our own churches. Are you tired of the same sermons in the church? I encourage you to start by reading the Bible, take a class in theology, and look for ways to get to know God. Above all, take time to pray, take time to be alone with God. He will not let you down. “You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. 2 Peter 3:17-18 (KJV)

The Resurrection of Our Lord: The Foundation of Our Faith


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Beloved brothers and sisters; if you don’t know anything else know the facts surrendering the death and resurrection of our Lord. In I Corinthians 15:1-21 Paul gives  us the magnitude of the importance of the resurrection.

 “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.” NKJV

         The resurrection of Christ is indeed the foundation of our faith. Without it there is no Christianity. The existence of God is clearly seen in nature according to Romans.[1] If you are a serious student of the cosmos, physics, mathematics, science in general and somebody who is able to make a simple observation of the beauty and complexity of nature, there is no way you can deny the existence of a Designer. Every human being knows that God is real; nevertheless, many chose to suppress the truth and are currently objects of God’s wrath.[2]

         It is the resurrection of Christ that seals the matter of God’s existence. Jesus was real! He impacted the world like non other. Our time was divided to before and after Him. He was the fulfillment of many prophecies; no other religion can claim that! He was never out argued; He walked in power performing many wonders, signs and miracles; no other religion can claim that! He stated that He was the Son of God; He announced his own death, He also announced His own resurrection and, guess what? His resurrection is a historical fact; only an idiot denies this amazing fact.

         His death was a public death, witnessed by believers and unbelievers. More than 500 hundred witnesses testified of his resurrection. The tomb used to bury my Lord was not cheap and was not a secret, but was the tomb of a rich and recognizable figure by the name of Joseph of Arimathea.[3] This is significant because that tomb’s location was not only known, but also heavily protected. Nevertheless, the greatest evidence we have of the resurrection is that the tomb is empty. No other religion can do claim that!

         Happy resurrection Sunday!

[1] “because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,” Romans 1:19-20 (NKJV)

[2] Romans 1:18

[3] Mark 15:43

How Old is the Earth?


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I believe that we must separate two truths here. One is that man was created six thousand years ago. We know this by following the genealogies in the Bible. Nevertheless, we run into another issue; is the earth 6,000 thousand years also? Genesis 1:1-2 tells us,

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”[1] (NKJV)

Now, lets look at some definitions here; lets start with the word, “Beginning”, this is the Hebrew word, “rēʾš̌iyṯ: A noun meaning the beginning, the first, the chief, the best, the firstfruits. Occurring fifty-one times in the Old Testament, this term holds the honor of being the first word written in the entire Bible (Gen. 1:1). Often, the term denotes the point in time or space at which something started, except when it specifies the point when time and space themselves were started (Isa. 46:10).”[2]

The second word we will look at is “Created”. This is the Hebrew word, “bārāʾ: A verb meaning to create. Only God is the subject of this verb.”[3] How do we go from, “in the beginning God created…” to verses two of Genesis 1? To “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”[4] Genesis 1:2. Shall we assume that what God created in Genesis 1:1 was without form and void? I do not subscribe to such view.

From here on we read the expression “and God saw that it was good” over and over. What reason do we have to conclude that in the beginning God created an earth that was without form and void? Did God created garbage? I believe that some catastrophic event happened between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2; I believe that between the two verses there is perhaps millions of years. Between these two verses we can see science in harmony with the Word of God. We can’t say that the earth is only six thousand years with all the archeological evidence we have of dinosaurs for example.

I am not sure what this catastrophic event was all about; some say that it represents the fall of Lucifer when he rebelled against God; I don’t know. However, there are some verses in Jeremiah that perhaps give us the answer to this mystery.

23I beheld the earth, and indeed it was without form, and void; And the heavens, they had no light. 24  I beheld the mountains, and indeed they trembled, And all the hills moved back and forth. 25  I beheld, and indeed there was no man, And all the birds of the heavens had fled. 26  I beheld, and indeed the fruitful land was a wilderness, And all its cities were broken down At the presence of the Lord, By His fierce anger.27 For thus says the Lord: “The whole land shall be desolate; Yet I will not make a full end. Jeremiah 4:23-27 (NKJV) 

We can interpret these verses as Jeremiah declaring judgment for Israel; however he describes the earth as being without form and void, the same Hebrew words used in Genesis 1:2. He also states in verse 27 that, “The whole land shall be desolate.” Since the creation of me, when have the whole land being desolated? 2 Peter 3:3-7 also gives a clear window to the reality that we are dealing with two worlds; one created and the other one recreated by God.

knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.[5] 2 Peter 3:3-7

            How old is the earth exactly? I don’t know, but it could be in the millions of years. I do agree that the recreation of the earth and the creation of the animals was completed in six literal days. However, I strongly agree that there is a gab between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. I believe that gab not necessarily tells us how old is the earth is, but perhaps is the time between the fall of Satan and the recreation of the earth and creation of the animals and us.

[1] The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Ge 1:1–2.

[2] Warren Baker and Eugene E. Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), 1027.

[3] Warren Baker and Eugene E. Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), 161.

[4] The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Ge 1:2.

[5] The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), 2 Pe 3:3–7.

Atheism and Us


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If you, as an atheist, tell me that you hate God and religion, I believe you. If you as an atheist blame God for all death and injustices in the world, if you don’t like how God does things, if you blame him for every rape, slavery and every evil in the world, I believe you. But if you tell me that you don’t believe that God exist, you are deceiving yourself.

         Brothers and sisters of the Christian faith, you probably have not heard these terms before, but get use to because they are defining our societies. Humanism is defined as “Any system of thought or action concerned with the interests or ideals of people … the intellectual and cultural movement … characterized by an emphasis on human interests rather than … religion.” Secular Humanism is defined as, “a comprehensive, nonreligious lifestance incorporating:

  • A naturalistic philosophy
  • A cosmic outlook rooted in science
  • A consequentialist ethical system”[1]

          Beloved, this is what is happening in our nation and this is what is happening in Europe. These folks are convinced that they are great intellectuals; however, God does not agree, in Romans 1:22 the Bible tells us, about these folks, Professing to be wise, they became fools,” (NKJV).

         They subscribe to the Advancement worldview; this is a worldview that believes that we are progressing, that we are advancing as a society, without the need for God or any supernatural intervention. In this worldview the claim is that God is not real and that if he is, he is not needed, we can progress on our own.[2] Because Satan is the god of this world[3] and because his job is to move the whole world away from God and towards him, he is accelerating the growth of this worldview.

         When the focus of life is anything but God, we serve the devil. Romans 1:21 tells us, “because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful…” (NKJV) This focus on us is a clear sign of the last days; the bible tells us that “…men will be lovers of themselves…”[4]

         Later, I will give you Biblical instructions on how to deal with the new atheist. But lets us take time now and look at five biblical truths that we all know, even if we refuse to recognize them.

  1. Everybody knows of God’s existence. (Romans 1:18-20)[5]
  2. Everybody knows of God’s power. (Romans 1:18-20)[6]
  3. Everybody knows that God is the ultimate authority. (Romans 1:18-20)[7]
  4. Everybody knows of God’s judgment against evil. (Romans 1:32)[8]
  5. Everybody knows of God’s law. (Romans 2:14-15)[9]

         Let me also tell you that today’s atheist are the worst; they are not seeking truth; they are passionate about destroying any form of religion around the world. It is funny to me that the late Christopher Hitchens, a self proclaim atheist would spend so much time and energy in writing a book entitle, God is not Great: How Religion Poison’s Everything. I assure you, Christopher Hitchens new that God was real; he for sure know now!

         These atheists are changing societies; they are successfully infiltrating cultures; that is, including ours. Atheism, by far, has being directly responsible for the murderess of millions, more than any ideology in the history of humanity, that is, including the Catholic Church and Radical Islam combine. Communism is a total rejection of God; atheism shines is communist governments and societies. Now lets take a look at these horrendous statistics.

“…the Soviet Union appears the greatest megamurderer of all, apparently killing near 61,000,000 people. Stalin himself is responsible for almost 43,000,000 of these. Most of the deaths, perhaps around 39,000,000 are due to lethal forced labor in gulag and transit thereto. Communist China up to 1987, but mainly from 1949 through the cultural revolution, which alone may have seen over 1,000,000 murdered, is the second worst megamurderer. Then there are the lesser megamurderers, such as North Korea and Tito’s Yugoslavia. Obviously the population that is available to kill will make a big difference in the total democide, and thus the annual percentage rate of democide is revealing. By far, the most deadly of all communist countries and, indeed, in this century by far, has been Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. Pol Pot and his crew likely killed some 2,000,000 Cambodians from April 1975 through December 1978 out of a population of around 7,000,000. This is an annual rate of over 8 percent of the population murdered, or odds of an average Cambodian surviving Pol Pot’s rule of slightly over just over 2 to 1. In sum the communist probably have murdered something like 110,000,000, or near two-thirds of all those killed by all governments, quasi-governments, and guerrillas from 1900 to 1987. Of course, the world total itself it shocking. It is several times the 38,000,000 battle-dead that have been killed in all this century’s international and domestic wars. Yet the probable number of murders by the Soviet Union alone–one communist country– well surpasses this cost of war. And those murders of communist China almost equal it.”[10]

            I mention these facts because atheist love to blame us for religious crimes, but they may need to look at themselves. We as born again Christians are not perfect people; God is still working in us and through us, but we have never had a murderous agenda. Again, there were crimes committed by the Catholic Church that we get blame for, however one must understand that born again Christians were also getting killed during time.

         Now, todays’ atheists, in general, are not mass murderess. As a matter of fact, many of them are good people, according to normal society expectations. They are intellectuals and that, I admire about them. They criticize us for being ignorant, non-intellectuals, against science and so on. In part, they are right about some of these accusations. There is a wing of the Body of Christ that embraces ignorance. If you want to hear sermons about how to get rich and do things without effort go for the charismatic church. If you want to get into a deep theological topic about God and answer the tough questions you will have to go to the more orthodox wing of our family of believers.

         This secular humanism ought to encourage us to know our faith more, to study, to show ourselves approve, to rightly divide the Word of truth[11] and to basically know what we are made of. However, let me also say that there is a Biblical way to respond to this foolishness and that is, by not responding at all. We need to be aware of them, love them and pray for them, but if God gave them up,[12] what do you think we are going to gain by debating them?

         The Bible tells us that a fool says in his heart that there is no God.[13] In Proverbs 26:4-5 the Bible gives us specific instructions,

Do not answer a fool according to his folly,

Lest you also be like him.

Answer a fool according to his folly,

Lest he be wise in his own eyes. (NKJV)

         The word “Folly” here has a very interesting meaning in the original language. It is the word, “anoia, meaning without understanding, senselessness, it denotes violent or mad rage, “madness.”[14] When dealing with an atheist, the first thing they want to do is to take Jesus and the Word out of the equation. Some are as ignorant as to question that the historical Jesus even existed.

         When we allow these fools to take away the Bible from us, we are indeed responding to them according to their folly. The warning for us as Christians is that we can become like them. We can find ourselves thinking that we are wise in our own opinion. When we take God’s Word and our precious testimony out of the debate, we position ourselves in a place of defending God. Does God need anybody to defend Him? When we do that we, without realizing it, we also make them wise in their own eyes.

         Nobody will come to Christ via the intellect; salvation is a gift from God given to us by grace through faith; it requires no works.[15] First Peter 3:15 tells us, But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;” (NKJV) Notice that the Bible encourages us to be ready to make a defense; that is the word Apology, meaning verbal defense. But what is it that we are called to defend, God? Absolutely not; what we are defending is the reason for our faith to whomever takes the time to ask. The idea that we go around debating people and requesting debating this or that person is not biblical.

         You may ask, what about if they, the atheist call us for a public debate? If they ask, should we go? The question is for what? They are oppressors of God’s truth and the wrath of God is upon them; again, if God turn them over, why debate? We are dealings with debased minds.[16]

         So what do we do with these oppressors of God’s truth? We pray for them; they are objects, not of God’s love, but of God’s wrath. We pray that they may repent of their sin and receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

         Lastly, I am convinced that the ministry of apologetics is biblical, is sound, and is real and necessary. This ministry defends the core values of our faith. Because of this reality I believe that we have plenty of apologetics to do from within, from within all who call themselves Christians.

         We, as Christians, are facing a greater issue amongst ourselves. An issue that is worst before the eyes of God, than the demon of secular humanism, it is call the lukewarm spirit spoken in Revelation 3:15-17,

 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— (NKJV)

          Beloved, what I see here is the prosperity gospel’s heresy that is consuming our churches. Secular humanism is a worldly thing; it is what is expected from the world, the lukewarm spirit is in our congregations, is in our pulpits, Sunday schools, etc. God is saying that He prefers that we were on fire for him, but his second option is coldness, that is what you get with these new atheists, a high level of coldness. However, it is those in the vomit zone that God despises the most; these are the ones that causes God to feel nauseated.

         I pray that we be a people on fire for God, passionate about His Word, passionate about sound doctrine, pursuing good theology, respecting our dogmas and what is unchanging… the orthodoxy of our faith. Yes, we are open for change, the change that our Lord directs; that change will never over-right God’s Word, but must, like everything else, submit to Him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Council for Secular Humanism, https://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php/3260

[2] Russ L Bush, The Advancement: Keeping the Faith in an Evolutionary Age, Nashville, TN: B&H, 2003.

[3] 2 Corinthians 4:4

[4] 2 Timothy 3:2

[5] “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,” (New King James Version)

[6] Same as above

[7] Same as above

[8] “who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” (New King James Version)

[9] “or when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them)” (New King James Version)

[10] R. J. Rummel, How Many Did Communist Regimes Murder, https://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/COM.ART.HTM

[11] 2 Timothy 2:15

[12] “Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.” Romans 1:24-27 (NKJV)

[13] Psalm 14:1

[14] W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 245.

[15] “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV)

[16] Romans 1:18-32

The Resurrection of Jesus


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12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. First Corinthians 15:12-19 (KJV)

             Like an attorney who walks back and forth in the courtroom pleading his case on behalf of his client with great confidence; knowing that he has everything necessary to win a case, similarly, we see the Apostle Paul making this powerful statement in First Corinthians 15:12-19. These verses sound like a challenge to whoever dares to question the resurrection of our Lord.

            Before we get into the resurrection discussion, I believe that first we should know some basic facts about Jesus’ existence.

            1. He existed as a man. The historian Josephus grew up in a priestly family in first-century Palestine and wrote only decades after Jesus’ death. Jesus’ known associates, such as Jesus’ brother James, were his contemporaries. The historical   and cultural context was second nature to Josephus. “If any Jewish writer were  ever in a position to know about the non-existence of Jesus, it would have been     Josephus. His implicit affirmation of the existence of Jesus has been, and still is,   the most significant obstacle for those who argue that the extra-Biblical evidence is not probative on this point,” Robert Van Voorst observes. And     Tacitus was careful enough not to report real executions of nonexistent people. 2. His personal name was Jesus, as Josephus informs us. 3. He was called     Christos in Greek, which is a translation of the Hebrew word Messiah, both   of which mean “anointed” or “(the) anointed one,” as Josephus states and Tacitus implies, unaware, by reporting, as Romans thought, that his name was Christus. 4. He had a brother named James (Jacob), as Josephus reports. 5. He won over   both Jews and “Greeks” (i.e., Gentiles of Hellenistic culture), according to Josephus, although it is anachronistic to say that they were “many” at the end of his life. Large growth in the number of Jesus’ actual followers came only after his death. 6. Jewish leaders of the day expressed unfavorable opinions about him, at least according to some versions of the Testimonium Flavianum. 7. Pilate rendered the decision that he should be executed, as both Tacitus and Josephus          state. 8. His execution was specifically by crucifixion, according to     Josephus. 9. He was executed during Pontius Pilate’s governorship over Judea (26–36 C.E.), as Josephus implies and Tacitus states, adding that it was  during Tiberius’s reign.”[1]

            In making the case for the resurrection of Christ we must start by stating that Jesus spoke with great authority, that there is not one instant when Jesus was out-argued, he thought things unknown by man, he was a man of great compassion, a man of character, a worker of miracles and a man whose life was the very fulfillment of Old Testament prophesies.[2] Most importantly, Jesus himself predicted his own death and resurrection.[3]

The historical facts of the death, the empty tomb, and the postmortem appearances of Jesus

      Groothuis tells us about Minimal Facts and Maximal Result: Resurrection[4]; he pointed out that Apologists such as William Lane Craig, Gary Habermas and Richard Swinburne effectively use these method. 1) Death by crucifixion: “It is a well-established fact of history that Jesus died by crucifixion in the early 30s.” As we know, crucifixion was a public death. Groothuis also points out that the public crucifixion offered biblical and extrabiblical material witnesses. 2) Burial in a known tomb: Jesus was buried in a tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathea.[5] This is a very important detail because that indicates an exact location for Jesus’ tomb. The Bible tells us,

“Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. 58 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. 59 When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed.”[6]

3) The Empty Tomb: Groothuis reminds us that all four gospels speak of the empty tomb. He also states that this testimony was given to Paul in First Corinthians 15. Paul got his information from reliable eye witness sources who were still alive during his time and who provided him with these sources within only 25 years or less of the actual crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. I have no doubts that the Apostle Paul was alive during the death and resurrection of Christ and perhaps, he grew up listening to such story; a story that he learned to hate as he himself was a persecutor of the church.[7] The story is not fictional! Lastly, all gospel accounts pointed out that the women were first in making this claim of the empty tomb. At first, this fact does not seem important. However, if this story were to be made up, they would have not used women because during that time the testimony of a woman did not have much credibility.[8]

      4) The Postmortem Appearance of Jesus: Groothuis give us 12 biblical witness accounts of folks who saw Jesus after the resurrection, starting with Mary Magdalene, other women, Peter, two disciples on the road to Emmaus, ten apostles, eleven apostles, seven apostles, all the apostles, five hundred disciples who Paul states that many were still alive during his time according to First Corinthians 15:6. Also James was an eyewitness, again all disciples saw him together one more time and then the Apostle Paul.[9]

The transformation of Jesus’ disciples

       Without a doubt there was a deep and profound transformation that took place in the character of all the disciples. Groothuis points out that among other things, neither of the disciples, but John, were there during the crucifixion. Even as Jesus alluded of his own death and resurrection, it is obvious that the disciples did not believe him. These men could not even pray for one hour.[10] However, there was an explosion that took place after the resurrection; these men were totally transformed. The National Geographic Channel “Killing Jesus” and many other sources explained in details how these original apostles died horrible death for their believe in Jesus.

      Simon was crucifies up side down, Andrew was scourged and the tied rather than nailed to a cross so that he would last longer; he died two days later; James (Son of Zebedee) was beheaded; it is said that his accuser repented, was moved by James courage and asked to be executed with James; they did tried to kill the Apostle John but he was the only one who died of all age. I guess his greatest torture was to see his friends die one by one. Phillip was also crucified, it is said that Bartholomew was either crucified or skinned alive and beheaded; Thomas was killed with spear, Matthew was stabbed in the back, James (Son of Alphaeus) was killed by stoning and hitting him in the head by a club; Jude was crucified and Simon the Canaanite.[11]

      There is no doubt that these men and many others, during that time, were radically changed; their passion was use mightily to powerfully introduced Christianity to the world.

      They’re other valuable explanations for the effect of the resurrection of Christ. 1) A passionately worship of Jesus a very unlikely thing to do for a Jew during that time. A Jew would have never worship a man. 2) Circumstantial evidence: Contrary the custom of the time of honoring the Sabbath according to the law of Moses, Christian changed the day of worship to Sundays in honor of the resurrection of Christ that took place on a Sunday. This was a constant reminder of the resurrection of our Lord; it was indeed center to their message. 3) Spiritual Experiences can be added; but this may be one more valuable for the believer than the skeptic.[12] Groothuis states,

      “When taken together, these multiple lines of evidence, both documentary and       circumstantial, lead us to a Christless tomb, a dead man found supernaturally alive          and a dynamic group of followers who turned the ancient world upside down.”[13]

Alternative naturalistic explanations

      Some of these naturalist explanations are 1) That these witness were hallucinating. However, this can be easily disproved. Groothuis explained that the disciples were shocked at the first report of the resurrection according to Luke 24:1-11 and John 20:24-26. Also, Groothuis argue that it is impossible for that many people, in different times and spaces be shocked.[14]

      Other naturalist explanations are a Christian conspiracy and that somebody stole his body. Gary Habermas, a Distinguished Professor of Apologetics and Philosophy and chairman, Department of Philosophy and Theology, at Liberty University, made the point that we have less evidence to the existence of Alexander the Great that to the validity of the resurrection of Christ.[15]

Why one of the alternative naturalistic explanations presents the greatest challenge, and what you believe is the best response.

            Perhaps the greatest challenge against the resurrection by these truth oppressors is the fact that, at first there seems to be minor discrepancies in the way the story is told. However, for a truth seeker and with a little study on the matter, as Groothuis suggest, the harmony of these narratives of the story of the resurrection can be found. There are many differences stories told by different writers through history, but these skeptics seems not to have a problem accepting these stories as truth.

            Groothuis gives an excellent example of how historians have a system in place to harmonize seemingly contradictions in the account of stories, 1) The assumption of differences; the reality that the same story told by two or more writers is bound to have some differences in it, and, 2) The complexity of truth that establishes that many times the truth can be found in both seemingly contradicted stories.[16] The bottom line is that when looking at the story of the resurrection; the fact of the resurrection itself is clear in all accounts.

            I have been watching a lot of debates since I started this class and one thing is obvious, we have a new generation of philosopher, scientist, etc. who identify themselves as atheist that are not seeking the truth, but in fact oppressing it. It seems like there is no effective argument that can be presented for them to even recognize possibilities that differ from their foolish assertions. They have done a great job in disregarding and mocking the Bible as a fiction book that can’t be trusted.

            It seems to me that these arguments presented by Groothuis are very edifying and encouraging for us as Christians who already believe the truth of the resurrection of Christ. I am also aware that for serious scholars, regardless of their beliefs, these are indeed solid arguments. I am not too sure these arguments presented by Groothuis offer any meaningful objection to this generation of truth oppressors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] “Did Jesus Exist? Searching for Evidence Beyond the Bible” by Lawrence Mykytiuk originally appeared in the January/February 2015 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review. The article was first republished in Bible History Daily on December 8, 2014.

[2] Douglass Groothuis, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith, (Downers Groove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2011) 535

[3] John 2:18-22

[4] Douglass Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 539-546

[5] “When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple: 58 He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. 59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.” Matthew 27:57-61King James Version (KJV)

[6] The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Mt 27:57–60.

[7] For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. First Corinthians 15:9 (KJV)

[8] Douglass Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 544

[9] Ibid. 546

[10] Douglass Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 351

[11] Patrick J. Kiger, How did the Apostles Die, National Geographic Channel: Killing Jesus, http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/killing-jesus/articles/how-did-the-apostles-die/ February 19, 2015

[12] Douglass Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 552- 554

[13] Ibid. 555

[14] Douglass Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 556-558

[15] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ay_Db4RwZ_M

[16] Douglass Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 561-562

Disgusted With The Republican Party


I am not a politician nor an expert in politics; but I am an American citizen who pays attention to the political process. I am 47 years old; I saw myself as a Democrat; but not for too long. I became a Conservative Republican and voted for Bush twice. Then I voted for Obama (Big Mistake). This last election I almost did not vote, but I did, reluctantly, give my vote to Mitt Romney.  I say reluctantly because for the last five plus years I am a registered Independent Conservative. I feel that the Republican party left me a long time ago.

I write this blog because I am disgusted with the Republican Party. Listen, I am not crazy about Donald Trump; however, I respect our democratic system. I feel that the Republican establishment is not listening to the American people and are not respecting the democratic process. We, the people, decide who we vote in for any elective office, not you guys.

I considered voting for Marco Rubio, not in a great committed way, but the consideration was there. I saw how the establishment wanted Jeb Bush. The failure of his candidacy  should have been a clear message for this controlling establishment that, we the people, do not want another cheeseball candidate.

Now I see them supporting Marco Rubio. As soon as I saw that, my consideration for Rubio expired. If I had any doubt, when I saw Mitt Romney supported Rubio, that was my confirmation. But when I heard that Romney is going to be giving a speech tomorrow and when I hear some these republicans talking about that they will not support Trump is he is the winner, that completely did it for me. You guys have lost your way! You are as socialist as Sanders; that is not the way our political system works. You are behaving worst than the Democratic party.

Republican establishment:

This is not up to you, it is up to us. We decide who we want to put in the White House. What you are doing is disgusting and could represent the end of your party. No wonder you guys were not able to defeat Obama; one, if not the worst president in the history of this nation who, in that condition, mopped the floor with Romney. The same Romney that you guys are calling on today to rescue your political foolishness! No wonder you are struggling with a weak candidate such as Clinton and, no wonder a socialist, in AMERICA, is making so much noise.