Leaving the Faith? Watch out for this logical fallacy

Many young people who leave home for college life end up abandoning their religion and moral constraints. (This is what the college professors and staff want them to do.) They are convinced by their professors that their religion was something their superstitious parents clung to, and the children don’t need those beliefs anymore. They are now free to choose the direction of their own lives. So, many young people are persuaded to leave their faith.

This reasoning the staff uses is based on a logical fallacy. A logical fallacy is a process of reasoning that is flawed. In this case, the fallacy is saying that if it is true for a part, then it is true for the whole. It goes like this.  Continue reading

Posted in Society and Culture | Leave a comment

Why does God tell us to love our enemies?

In Matthew 5:43-44, Jesus tells His hearers to love their enemies: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

I see several reasons why God would want us to love our enemies.

1. He knows our tendency as angry human beings to do worse to our enemies than they deserve. Our hatred is seldom bothered by ideas like fairness. Example out of a newspaper clip: There was an argument at a party in L.A. where a person heatedly goes home, returns with a gun, and shoots the other person. Really? Continue reading

Posted in Christianity, Violence and Atrocities | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Promises and Warnings

What is the purpose of the promises and warnings in the Bible? They serve the same purpose as promises and warnings in regular life. If we examine the promise to see if it had merit and follow through, we’ll get the benefits. If we examine the warnings to see if they have merit and heed them, we’ll be spared the negative consequences. There is nothing supernatural about this. Continue reading

Posted in Encouragement | Leave a comment

The Deceitful Heart

I consider myself a good person, not from any genuinely good works that I am doing, but because I’m not doing bad things, or I’m not as bad as “those people.” That’s deceitful thinking, because Jesus said that no one is good except God. We fool ourselves in this area because we do not compare ourselves with those who have made more sacrifices than we have, nor do we compare ourselves to the perfect man, Jesus Christ, who always did the will of God. Continue reading

Posted in Encouragement | Leave a comment

Our “silly little sins”

I recently answered a question sent to me from gotquestions.org. This person, who is quoted below, thought her sins were silly little sins and she wondered why she was unable to get over them and stop repeating them. My reply comes from over 30 years of walking with the Lord. I doubt I could have given this reply after just ten years.  Continue reading

Posted in Sin and Salvation | Leave a comment

Is a “personal relationship” with Christ necessary for salvation?

A “personal relationship with Christ” is a phrase used among born-again believers to contrast an impersonal relationship with God. (Another popular phrase among born-again Christians is, “Relationship, not religion,” which says the same thing.) But is this idea actually taught in the Bible? Do we need a personal relationship with Jesus to be saved? Continue reading

Posted in Encouragement | Tagged | Leave a comment

What part of life is religious?

How much of life is religious, and how much is not? How much has to do with God, and how much does not? Is “church time” the religious part, and outside church, life is not? A response of Jesus addressed this issue when He answered the question, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus’ answered, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:36-39). These two commandments encompass all of life, so all of life is spiritual, sacred, religious. Continue reading

Posted in Encouragement | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Pharisee in Church

The frequent run-ins between Jesus and the Pharisees were a clash between the Pharisee’s preoccupation with external things and Jesus’ emphasis on the spiritual kingdom. The Pharisees were interested in keeping their status quo, the rigid forms of religious law, looking good to their peers, and maintaining self-righteousness and a respectable position before the public.

Jesus, on the other hand, cared more about their relationship with God and their inner state. They cared about saying the right thing to look good while Jesus cared about them being real. They wanted rules and laws while Jesus wanted them set free to follow the Spirit wherever He would lead them. Unlike the Pharisees, Jesus was willing to be unpopular if standing for the truth would help some to advance in their spiritual walk with God. Continue reading

Posted in Encouragement | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Faith without proof is alive and well among the religious and secular

Many religious people trust in their spiritual authority for their religious beliefs. They don’t study the religious text for themselves. They don’t understand how their authorities came by their tenets, so theirs is a personal faith without proof. “All I know is that when I die, I go to heaven, right?”

Many people trust in science authorities for their findings. They don’t study science textbooks for themselves. They don’t understand the complex findings by which their authorities arrived at their conclusions, so theirs is also a personal faith without proof. “All I know is that we came from a warm pond and are descended from monkeys, right?”  Continue reading

Posted in Science and Evolution, Society and Culture | Leave a comment

To learn, unlearn; to believe, disbelieve

In Philippians 3:4-6, we have a list of beliefs Paul had to disbelieve in order to believe, to unlearn that he may learn. For instance, according to this list, he believed in God and country until God corrected it to just “God.” He prided himself in being a Hebrew of pure Hebrew parents, and not a half breed from a mixed interracial marriage; God persuaded him that his parentage wasn’t enough, but being in God’s family was. Paul pointed to his prestigious Pharisee denomination as though it put him in a high position, until God pointed out that Jesus didn’t check church attendance as a qualification. So much to unlearn! Little by little, all that he trusted in was refined so that it resulted in trusting just Jesus for righteousness (Philippians 3:7-11).

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Bible and Atheist agree: Blind Faith is Wrong

The popular meaning for faith is to believe something without proof. This is the “popular” meaning, and as with the meanings of several other words, it doesn’t match up with its meaning used in the Bible. For instance, the popular definition of church is the building that worshippers meet in. The popular meaning of saint is someone who did good religious works and died. The Bible doesn’t use these meanings. Continue reading

Posted in Encouragement | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Armor of God Series: the Belt of Truth

“Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness” (Eph. 6:14).

With the truth, we are seeing things as they really are. The truth is not just facts, but facts acted on.

A person may research what the Bible says about idolatry, which is putting something ahead of God or Jesus, and miss seeing his own idolatry. He has all the facts about the idolatry that drove Israel from God in the OT; he can list the idols the NT epistles condemn. But when it comes to his own idolatry – his life emphasis on hobbies and leisure, for example – he doesn’t yet have the truth of idolatry, that he needs to set Jesus first and foremost.

Through the Word, the Spirit impresses the truth of the spiritual state upon the child of God’s heart. Accepting the truth, he repents and puts his idols in their proper place. The truth makes a difference; facts are just the tools the Spirit uses to communicate life-changing light to us. Continue reading

Posted in Encouragement | Tagged | Leave a comment

Does God care about the Christmas holiday?

Does God care about us displaying Christmas trees? Does He require that we put on happy faces for the holidays? Do we need to put up Christmas lights? Are we to be ashamed if we don’t have a scene of the nativity in our homes? Do our churches have to play Christmas music? Does He require that we give gifts? How much importance should we give to this post-Thanksgiving season? Since we are made in the image of God, we should see what God thinks about it, then conform ourselves to His outlook on the world and its customs. Continue reading

Posted in Society and Culture | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Faith to Endure Hardship

In Hebrews 11, we are introduced to a series of individuals who were known for their faith. Noah prepared an ark, expecting a flood. Abraham moved out of his country at the word of God, not knowing where he was going. Sarah believed God, and birthed a child in her old age. Moses left the pleasures of Egypt to journey with the people of God. They were not just known for faith – but an enduring faith; they were tested in hard circumstances and kept on trusting in God no matter what.

In Hebrews chapter 12, the spotlight swings to the readers of the epistle. “Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” (12:1), the witnesses of God’s faithfulness noted in chapter 11, what are we to do? Continue reading

Posted in Encouragement | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Clean Conscience At Last

At the coming of Jesus, God introduced something new. With the death, burial, and resurrection of the Christ, God creates a new covenant with believers that results in a clean conscience. The tenth chapter of Hebrews explains this feature of our salvation that many of us are unaware of, and so have let the shame of our past taint the present. We don’t have to let guilty thoughts from past wrongs paralyze us from moving forward. Let’s cover these verses in detail, because the words of Christ are still true: “the truth shall make you free.” Continue reading

Posted in Encouragement | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

“Love your neighbor as yourself”

Jesus told us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves in Mark 12:31. Some people have said that they cannot love their neighbor as they ought because they do not love themselves. On the contrary, the Bible is clear that we love ourselves too much! In this article, I hope to reveal how we love ourselves, and armed with these thoughts, how we can love our neighbor as ourselves.

If we replace the word love with other words, the commandment becomes easier to comprehend. Replace “love yourself” with “pamper yourself,” “show mercy to yourself,” “take care of yourself,” “do good to yourself,” and then the ideas on how to love others begin to form. Let’s look at some examples of how we love ourselves. Continue reading

Posted in Encouragement | Leave a comment

How does the Christian overcome?

The Bible tells us that Christians have the victory, or that they overcome. What does that mean? What does that victory look like? How can we know that we are overcoming?

First John 5:2-5 tell us that we have the victory and have overcome the world. Here is the passage, which we will cover in more detail later:

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? Continue reading

Posted in Sin and Salvation | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Why should we read the Old Testament?

Is the Old Testament (OT) of any value nowadays? Many people say that we no longer have to follow all those laws and rules anymore, so why bother reading it at all? I’ve read through the OT many times along with the NT. (I regularly read the Bible from front to back.) Here are some of the ways I’ve benefited from reading the whole Bible, and how you can be blessed by it too. Continue reading

Posted in The Bible | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How do we Fight the Devil?

The Bible tells us how to address the one “who deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:9) in several revealing passages in the New Testament. In none of them are we told to attack him directly. Rather, we remove the means for him to attack us. For instance, we would not want to go after a stronger opponent with a knife in our hand if he is a better fighter than ourselves, because he could take the knife away from us and use it to hurt us. The principle is the same here: by refusing to look to the flesh to save us, we deprive the devil of a weapon to use against us. Let’s see how the NT communicates this idea. Continue reading

Posted in Demons, H e l l and Suffering | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Salvation of the Soul

What is the salvation of the soul, and what does it look like? The first few verses of 1 Peter chapter one give us a strong sense of this salvation and then concludes with, “receiving the end of your faith – the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:9). What is this salvation, and how can we know whether our spiritual growth is heading in the right direction? Continue reading

Posted in Encouragement | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Neglected Deliverance

We tend to seek the Lord’s deliverance when we get into personal trouble. But there is a deliverance that keeps us out of the trouble in the first place. Which would you like – to fall into trouble and try to get out of it, or to avoid it in the first place?

For instance, the word tells us about deliverance from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence (Psalms 91:3). Our first impression of this deliverance is that we’ve fallen into a trap or are experiencing a spiritual plague and the Lord promises to rescue us from it. But that’s not the best way the Lord delivers us. For instance, Proverbs identifies the promiscuous woman and tells us to avoid her (Proverbs 5). Avoiding her, we avoid a terrible fate. Thus, by heeding the warnings of Scripture we identify and avoid the traps beforehand while the more simple-minded don’t pay attention – and fall right in (Proverbs 22:3). Continue reading

Posted in Encouragement | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Faith and the Spirit’s Leading

What is faith?

A definition is in order. What is faith? If faith means to believe something without proof, as many claim, then how is it different from blind faith? What I find funny is that those who dislike faith because it believes without proof, believe in this definition of faith – without proof!

The word faith appears many times in the Bible in the New Testament, which was written in Greek. If we turn to a Greek scholar’s work, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words and look up faith, we find it is the word pistis, which means “primarily, firm persuasion (akin to peitho, to persuade), a conviction based upon hearing, is used in the N.T. always of faith in God or Christ, or things spiritual.”

To have faith means to have a firm conviction about something. How one comes to faith is not in the meaning of the word. One may have faith based on a wide variety of evidence, or not; the proof is not part of the semantic meaning of the word. The meaning of faith is centered on the persuasion you have, not on how you arrived by that persuasion, or even what you believe in.

Those who say that (true) faith is blind or that it means to believe something against all reason are wrong. Religious faith is based on a Greek word with a real definition found in a Greek dictionary which derives its meaning from the N.T. context in which it appears. Faith means to be persuaded of something. (The only biblically sound reason for faith to mean something different is when it’s said to be “the faith,” in which case it is talking about the Christian life and doctrine in general.)

If you strongly insist (have a firm conviction, have faith) that faith means to believe something in spite of the facts, then your personal faith is real, but based on false information.

A wrong meaning of faith will result in wrong practices and a wrong understanding of the Scriptures in which the word appears. Continue reading

Posted in Encouragement | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

What was Jesus’ understanding of being born again?

Was Jesus’ explanation of born again outside the norm of Christianity? People say, “It means to become a Christian,” or “to believe in God,” to have your life changed, to start again on a spiritual level, to have God do a spiritual work in your life. Is this what Jesus taught when He used the term born again? Continue reading

Posted in Encouragement | Leave a comment

Does the Holy Spirit still lead believers today?

The book of Acts relates several accounts of men who were directed by the Holy Spirit to say certain things, do something, or go somewhere. Is this direction of the Holy Spirit supposed to continue in today’s church? Or did it stop back in the days of the apostles in the first century? Continue reading

Posted in Encouragement | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Evolution vs. Creation: Collision of Two Worldviews

Neither creation nor macro-evolution have physical proof for their positions. Rather, each party looks at the scientific data from their own perspective and looks for evidence to support it. For instance, the people who are convinced that macroevolution has occurred look at all the fossils unearthed over the centuries and concludes, “Well, since we all evolved, then these invertebrates probably evolved one after the other and the vertebrates branched off and evolved their own way. All these bird-like creatures evolved in order and the mammals branched off and evolved, splitting up more and more, based on the similarities among them.” The evidence is plain.

Those who believe God created each kind of creature by itself, seeing the same data the evolutionist sees, concludes, “All fossilize skeletons are full and complete. All parts needed to be a living creature are all accounted for. There are no in-betweens. These skeletons illustrate the biblical account, that God formed each animal according to its kind. They did not evolve but were created as is.” The evidence is plain.

Same data; same science; different viewpoints Continue reading

Posted in Science and Evolution | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: When the Storm Hits

When the Storm Hits
by Chuck Smith
Copyright 2013 The Word for Today
http://www.twft.com

What do we do when the storm hits; how are we to react when the troubles come?
This book reminded me of several perspectives regarding our trials that I had forgotten. God has a purpose for our trials that Christless people cannot share in. Our trials will not overwhelm us when we see them through God’s eyes. Here are just a few thoughts that were prompted by the pages of this worthwhile book by the late Chuck Smith, who pastored the Calvary Chapel church in Costa Mesa, CA.

Continue reading

Posted in Book Reviews | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

What is intimacy with Jesus?

What does it mean when Christians talk about having intimacy, or a deep relationship, with Jesus? There are many ways to describe it and experience it. I will talk about one way of entering into that intimacy or fellowship with Jesus and continuing in it all day. Continue reading

Posted in Encouragement | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do we need the power of the Holy Spirit?

Recently one of my prayer group regulars talked about our need of the Holy Spirit’s power upon us just as it was on the disciples in Acts. He seemed to think it was a matter of just asking for it and the power would be given.

Based on the stories of the empowering of the apostles in Acts, I wonder if there is more to it than that. The apostles had a goal that was bigger than them, so they required God’s own power to make it happen. “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel.” That’s a God-size task requiring God’s power.

I suspect that most of us have much smaller goals in mind and we pace ourselves so that we can accomplish them in our own strength. Our goals may be work-related, hobby-related, or something to do with home or school. But for the most part we won’t be asking for God’s empowering because our tasks are modest and doable on our own. Continue reading

Posted in Encouragement | Tagged | Leave a comment

Why macro-evolution doesn’t make sense

One major barrier against the gradual evolution of relatively simple organisms into complex ones rests on the organism’s inability to understand its environment and adapt to it.

For instance, how could a blind organism understand that color is produced by light waves reflected by or absorbed by objects, and correctly deduce that it must create an eye composed of rods and cones to capture these rays and correctly interpret them? How could a blind organism know that light could be too bright or too dark and create a pupil which dilates and contracts to monitor the correct amount of light?  It just doesn’t make sense that something blind and primitive could instinctively understand that color is seen according to an object reflecting certain invisible wavelengths of light. Continue reading

Posted in Science and Evolution | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Why can’t we explain our faith to the skeptic?

I’ve had a hard time using logic to explain to skeptics why our Christian beliefs are true and defensible (and even logical). Why? Because some of the wisdom was gained through the logic of life experience, and no shortcuts exist.

When getting to know a stranger for the first time, we may start out with distrust or indifference. That’s normal. Respect or trust for the other comes with experience spent with that person or hearing of his or her admirable exploits. So it is with people who don’t know Jesus or the Father. Their questions are sometimes filled with mistrust, doubt, or anger. Jesus said to abide (remain) with Him, then we’ll bear much fruit (John 15:4-7). There are no shortcuts to being a fruitful Christian; but when the fruit is attained and God gets the glory, the Christian can look back and trace the work of God, and it all makes sense. It’s a logic born of experience. Continue reading

Posted in Christianity | Tagged , , | Leave a comment