Or is it all relative...
The Senate hearing on Judge Kavanaugh has much larger implications than just who gets to fill an empty Supreme Court seat. It is ultimately determining if we are going to continue to be a nation of laws or if we are going to allow our post-modern mindset to continue to sink us into the mud pit of emotion-based decision making. After the testimony given last week by both Judge Kavanaugh and Ford, the news analysts went crazy trying to decide who was more sincere or whose testimony was more convincing. The problem with all of this is that it doesn’t matter who was sincere or convincing. This isn’t like they’re trying to convince us of their favorite flavor of ice cream. We’re talking about an event that either did or did not take place. It matters what the facts are.
This is the problem with post-modernism, which says that truth itself is relative. It uses phrases like “My truth is different from your truth” or “What is true for you may not be true for me.” Or in the words of a former President accused of sexual misconduct, “It depends upon what the meaning of the word 'is' is" (and that case had physical evidence to corroborate the accusation). People like to embrace the post-modern ideology because it seems so freeing. It makes all things flexible enough to include anything. Our society thinks that “truth” is just so limiting and exclusive. The proposed solution is to just move beyond truth to make it subjective to the individual. That way no one is answerable to anyone. You can’t tell me what I did was wrong – because your truth is not my truth!
Well, at least post-modernists got one part right. Truth is limiting and truth does exclude. Truth, by definition, must exclude the false. So when we hear the testimony from Judge Kavanaugh and Ford, it doesn’t matter who appeared more sincere, it matters what the truth is. The truth of what actually happened 36 years ago should exclude all statements that claim something different. If what Ford claims is the truth, then it shouldn’t matter “how sincere” Judge Kavanaugh appeared. If what Judge Kavanaugh claims about what happened 36 years ago is the truth, then it shouldn’t matter “how sincere” Ford appeared. Isn’t this what this nation should be about? Especially when we’re talking about someone who is going to sit on the Highest Court in the land?? Don’t we want the Supreme Court Justices to rule according to the facts and merits of the case in relation to the Constitution instead of how they feel about it or how emotionally drawn to the defendants they are?
For example, in 2006 three Duke Lacrosse team members were wrongfully accused of raping a stripper at a party. At the time of the case, the media drew every social-justice line you could draw between these young men and the woman accusing them of rape. As we watched the case unfold, you could either feel sympathy for the young men whose reputations and careers were being destroyed or you could feel sympathy for this young woman whose life was ruined by this horrific event. But only the truth can determine where your sympathy should fall. Your sympathy for the young men is only valid if they were wrongfully accused. Otherwise, how could anyone possibly sympathize with three men who gang raped someone at a party, no matter what her profession was? And your sympathy for the young woman is only valid if these three men really did that to her. Otherwise, how could you possibly sympathize with someone who fabricated this story just to get attention? The point is only the truth of the situation, not her truth vs. their truth, but the actual truth can tell us the proper way to feel about this case. Turns out we could sympathize with these kids whose lives were destroyed – and a coach who stood by them who lost his job – because they were wrongfully accused.
On the other hand, in California Brock Turner was convicted of raping an unconscious girl. Through the trial and especially during the sentencing, his attorneys and family begged for sympathy for Brock. He was an Olympic-hopeful swimmer at Stanford and his future was now jeopardized; his reputation ruined. Were Brock actually innocent of that crime, then we would be justified in sympathizing with his plight. However, that pesky thing, the truth, comes in and shows us that we should not sympathize with his ruined future, but sympathize with the young girl who was the victim.
It wasn’t the Duke Lacrosse players’ truth vs. the accuser’s truth. And it wasn’t Brock’s truth vs. the victim’s truth. It was the absolute, objective truth of what happened. It wasn’t who appeared more convincing or more sincere, but who was right. These examples highlight the failings of post-modernism. Truth is not subjective What does the evidence say actually happened? Whose story can be corroborated by something other than just an emotional response?
This is where the idea of absolute, objective truth is not only necessary, but in a way it is more freeing than post-modernism. The facts and evidence tell us what happened so that we are no longer drug around by unreliable emotions, fickle desires, and personal biases. We can instead determine what the facts are, what the absolute truth is, and make decisions based on that. And from that position of knowledge of the truth, we can then allow our emotions to follow – feel anger towards one party because it is fully justified. Feel sympathy towards the other party because it is fully justified, not just because we prefer that person, or the situation was horrible, or they cried a lot on the stand. But feel that way because it is truth, and therefore it is right. That is the proper order of things. The danger to our society is when we allow the emotional circumstances of something and the fluid definition of “subjective truths” rule over our judgments. This won’t just cost us a controversial Supreme Court seat, but the very moral fiber of our society itself. Innocent until proven guilty? No longer. Guilt or innocence decided by an emotional plea by one party? Apparently so.
Due to both my overwhelming schedule and life this past year and the difficulty I’ve had in finding the right words for a new post, it’s been over a year since I’ve been able to sit down and write. It was a struggle to figure out how to break radio-silence after that amount of time. So I thought a more personal post to explain the silence and my thoughts in the silence would be fitting.
2017 was the worst year of my life, and while I can’t yet say this about everything that happened in 2017, I can see in some of those things how God truly does work even the crappy things for His glory and for the good of those who call upon His name. The fall of 2017 brought yet another career change. So far God has taken me from engineering, to being a stay-at-home, to writing a book and founding a ministry for Christian apologetics, and now He has combined all of those experiences and skills to bring me to a high school teaching position - teaching 12th grade apologetics and AP Calculus. The change was more difficult and time consuming than I ever predicted - mostly because of what all had happened at the beginning of 2017.
February 2017 brought the diagnosis that my mom’s leukemia had returned and it would require a very difficult stem cell transplant. May 2017 brought the news that she could not have the stem-cell transplant but would have to rely on a clinical drug trial. June 2017 brought the diagnosis of pneumonia and her decision to stop treatment. And on July 4, 2017 I was holding my mommy’s hand when I had to say good-bye to her. It is a horrible reality every day yet still an unimaginable nightmare that can’t possibly be true. I miss her every day. Every day there is something that I can’t wait to tell her…only to be reminded that she’s not here to hear it. Every day I wonder what we would be doing together if she were still here. Every day I feel like there was still something left for me to, and then I find that it’s because my days still don’t seem complete until I’ve talked to her. I’ve realized even after a year that it is a pain that will never go away. It is simply a pain you just have to live with.
Yet in my pain I know that she is experiencing perfect joy as she is finally with her Lord and Savior. And I know that my good-bye wasn’t good-bye forever, but more like “I’ll see you soon” because my mom loved Jesus. And I do too. However, in this situation, many people would wonder why I would still say that because Jesus didn’t “answer my prayer.” I had prayed relentlessly for her healing - not just me, but countless others who loved the beautiful, Godly woman that she was. She was always so joyful and so kind. I can definitely say that after a year, I still have no idea why His answer was different from what I wanted. But I can also definitely say that God is still real and God still loves and cares for me. Because, you see, God’s existence and love for me exists outside of how happy and comfy my life is. That is a truth…whether He had healed my mom or not. Those truths have no bearing on whether I get “my prayer answered” or not.
How can I say that God still loves me if He would take away someone so special, so dear, so important to me? Because I can see how much God hated this too. He hated it enough to do something about it. No, I don’t mean that what He did about it was heal her (although I desperately wanted that to be the case). It’s because He did something about death overall. He hated that His precious creation had chosen the path of sin, and pride, and rejection of Him – because He knew what that meant for us. He knew that part of His character is perfect Holiness (something we truly can’t fathom). So He can’t be in the presence of unholiness. But if the creation that He loved were sinful, how can He possibly remain with His creation and still be His other attribute: Just? That sin issue has to be dealt with before God’s creation can be in His presence…yet that is what God wanted because of yet another attribute of God: Love!
If God is perfectly holy so that He can’t be in the presence of sin, and perfectly just so that He must judge sin (which we would want someone who is good and holy to do), yet perfectly loves His sinful creation so that He desires relationship with us, what can He do? Well, He can pay the penalty for that sin Himself. The judgment has been made on sin – and it is death. This is where my personal situation falls. Death is an unavoidable part of our existence. It is what happens eventually to all of us, whether it is at the ripe old age of 102 or too soon at the age of 63 like my mom by a wretched disease or even in the youth of life by a tragic car crash. Death will come to us all because we are in this sinful world. The fix to that is to stop death. But if God stopped death here, meaning He made us eternal in this world, that would truly be a miserable existence. We wouldn’t want eternity where there is sin and suffering and pain and injustice. What we really want is for this to not be the ultimate point of our existence.
When Jesus came down to earth, if He could heal the sick, give sight to the blind, make the lame walk, but could not do anything about death, His existence here would have been useless. His claims as God would have been nullified. But when Jesus died on the cross and resurrected, this was how God fixed our problem of death. Death was defeated here on earth and our eternity in God’s presence was made possible. That was how much God hated what happened to my mom. Though I would have given anything to have my mom healed of her leukemia, to have her by my side as I raise my children, to have my children see her life as an example of Godliness and faithfulness, it would have still been temporary. Death would have still come. But now it’s not our time on earth together that is temporary, it is the separation at death that is temporary. Jesus came to give us life and give it more abundantly. Death has been defeated. So now it is no longer good-bye, but I’ll see you soon, mommy.
My husband and I both for a time worked in the aerospace industry (of course I no longer do, but he still does). The other day we were discussing the future of the space industry, the new ideas for different launch vehicles, and the goals being set by different companies. As we talked about the explorations of the past, through things like the Voyager program, and the hopes for future explorations, I became once again amazed at the unfathomable vastness of this universe. It's size and expanse is truly incomprehensible to us.
Look at some of the facts about this universe:
Then in 1977, as part of exploring this vast universe, The Voyager Program launched two spacecraft, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. The probes explored the planets and moons of the outer Solar System over several decades as it traveled toward interstellar space. On March 20 2013, Voyager 1 became the first human-made object to leave the Solar System and is now the furthest human-made object from Earth, currently 124.34 Astronomical Units away (more than 11 billion miles from our sun). Voyager 2 is speeding along at more than 39,000 mph, but will take more than 296,000 years to pass Sirius, the brightest star in our night sky.
While on its journey, in 1990 Voyager 1 turned its camera back on our home planet and took a picture. This became known as The Pale Blue Dot. Seen from 6 billion kilometers away, the Earth appears as a tiny blue speck in the depths of space. It reminds us how seemingly insignificant the earth is by comparison to the vast expanse of the universe.
However, as small and insignificant as we may seem, we are strangely unique. We are the only planet that is capable of sustaining life. Yet, if we believe that God uniquely created us, that humans on this earth were made in the very image of God, it brings up an interesting question. Why all this stuff in space? Why are all of those huge stars and galaxies and planets necessary? Why are we surrounded by all of this?
Well, it made me wonder. Why would God go about creating all of that? And I understand that much of it really is in place for our benefit. The sun gives us things necessary for life; the moon controls our tides; the gravitational pull of Jupiter protects us from meteor strikes. But then I realized - it just speaks to the awesome wonder of our Creator God. Why wouldn't He fill up space with other wondrous things?
The best analogy I could think of us with our own backyards. No matter what size yard you have, we all try to add something to it simply to enjoy looking at it. And it's not always situated in the same spot. You spread it out. In one corner you plant an azalea bush (or two or three because in the south we love azaleas). In another corner you might have a rose bush surrounded by smaller daisies. And in between you have a small rock garden with a fountain and lilies in the water, maybe a few pansies around the twists and turns of a path. Then you have a nice apple tree in the middle to give you some shade. We do all of that to enjoy the beauty of what we can plant - create - and cultivate. You are the master of your yard and you can design amazing things simply to see their beauty and grandeur.
Think about what all that looks like to something small and insignificant, say, the ant. He's so tiny so all he sees are these monstrous colors spread out across this huge expanse. And he wonders why did someone put that camellia bush so far away that he can barely see it? And it will take him years to travel out there to it, just to see what it smells like.
Consider what all that can also reveal about the gardener. I love to design gardens and pick out different plants and colors and combinations. But I am TERRIBLE about them actually surviving. My son even asked me during one gardening project, "Are you putting that plant in the corner there so it can die too?" So if I had an even bigger yard, you would see how truly inept I am at gardening. But when you have a master gardener and you give them a large space, we usually sit back amazed at the beauty they can create. So the larger the space to garden, the more you can tell about the gardener.
The point is, it occurred to me that the vast expanse, wonder, and grandeur of space - and how much of it is even still undiscovered - all point to the vastness, wonder, and grandeur of our Creator. He is using this universe like His giant garden, planting a galaxy here, a planet over there, and stars all around. He does it with the same purpose that He made us - to bring glory to Himself. It is why we should be in even more awe that a God so incredible who could create the wonders of this universe would care so deeply to desire a relationship with the seemingly insignificant person that I am.
When John the Baptist was sitting in prison, he sent his disciples to ask Jesus if he were the Coming One or if they should look for another. And Jesus responded, "Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them." Jesus pointed to the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies of the miracles that would be worked through the Messiah. It was by these miracles that Jesus proved His deity. It was by the spoken word of Jesus that these works were done instantly and completely. It was that feature that signified to the people that these incidents were supernatural and thus done by someone who is Himself outside of this nature. Granted, these were first century times so they didn't have all of the modern medical devices that we have or all of the scientific instruments and knowledge that we have. But they knew when people were dead. They knew when a person had been blind their entire life, or when they had leprosy, or when they were paralyzed. It wasn't the fact that they didn't understand how nature worked that made the crowds flock to Jesus for healing. It was the fact that they knew how nature worked that told them something un-natural was taking place. The lame don't suddenly get up one day and carry their mats off and the dead don't suddenly walk out of tombs out of a natural process. The people knew it was a supernatural process that could instantly and completely do these works.
The Miracle of the Paralytic
In Mark 2:1-12 (also in Matthew 9:1-8), four people bring their paralyzed friend to Jesus while He is speaking in a crowded house. There was no way for the friends to carry their paralyzed friend's stretcher through the crowd so they climbed onto the roof, dug a hole, and lowered him down before Jesus. Jesus first tells the man that his sins are forgiven, but to show His authority over all things, Jesus tells the man to rise up, take up his mat, and go home.
I honestly didn't think about the completeness of this healing until I had children, which may seem like an odd connection. But after I had my first son, I was able to see the long progression for someone learning how to walk. A child is typically seven to ten months old before they are able to push themselves up on their hands and knees to crawl. Around ten or eleven months, they will start trying to pull themselves upright. Around the one-year mark a child will begin to take those first few wobbly steps. They'll typically take the next six months to one year gaining coordination and balance before they are able to really walk or run. The funniest thing to me was watching how long it took a child to learn how to jump. After conquering running, my son wanted to start jumping. But for the first several months, he would just bend his knees and swing his arms - building up for a huge jump - yet never leave the ground. It was absolutely hilarious! It wasn't until he was three years old that he could actually jump off the ground.
Now let's go back to Jesus' miracle with the paralytic. When Jesus said, "Get up," the paralytic did not have to go through any of those stages to be able to stand up, bend over, pick up his mat, and walk out. Granted, we weren't told if this man had been lame since birth, but for any significant period of time of being immobile, some form of rehab would have been necessary if this healing were of natural means. But there is none of that here. This man is instantly and completely healed. Think about anatomically what all was healed supernaturally and instantaneously. His muscles were no longer atrophied. His joints were not tight and cramped. His bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves worked perfectly - the instant Jesus spoke. His balance was perfect to be able to stand up and then bend over to lift an object. He legs were perfectly coordinated to lift one leg at a time and walk. There was no learning curve. This man who came in paralyzed, unable to move, was instantly and completely healed so that he could walk as though he had been walking his entire life. (To see this illustration even further, take a look in Acts 3 where Peter and John healed in the name of Jesus a man who had been paralyzed since birth who then stood up and leaped!)
Even people in the first century could recognize that kind of healing is not from a natural process. Jesus did not use therapy and ointments to eventually cure the man's ailments. He supernaturally did instantly what nature does slowly. Though this is just one example, you can see that with all His miracles. The nobleman's son was healed the moment Jesus spoke in John 4:53. The man's withered hand was instantly healed in Matthew 12:13. The woman with the flow of blood was healed the moment she touched Jesus' hem.
The Miracle at Cana
The same thing is seen in the very first miracle Jesus worked in the New Testament in John 2 at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. They had run out of wine, so Mary went to Jesus. Jesus told the servants to fill the water pots with water, draw some out, and then take it to the headwaiter. Instead of drinking water though, the headwaiter drank wine, a substance that was chemically different from water. And it was not just cheap wine either. It was the good stuff. The headwaiter commented that most people serve the best wine first and then serve the cheap stuff. But this wedding had saved the best wine for the end! In this miracle, Jesus instantly and completely turned water into high-quality wine. Wine typically takes at a minimum 10-15 days for the fermentation process to complete. But the longer it ages, the better it is. So at this wedding feast, how old would the headwaiter say the wine was? Chemically, how old was the wine? But Jesus had only just then changed it from water into wine! Jesus did instantly and completely what nature does slowly.
To reassure John the Baptist, Jesus pointed to these works that give witness to His deity. However, in John 5:39-47 Jesus also refers to the Scriptures that give witness to His deity. In verses 45-47, He says, "Do not think that I am the One who will accuse you before the Father. There already is one who accuses you: Moses, the very one in whom you have placed your hope for salvation. For if you believed and relied on the Scriptures written by Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me personally. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” The Jews knew what Moses had written but did not believe it. If they doubted those scriptures, then of course they would doubt His words. After the Resurrection, Jesus instructed the disciples. "Then beginning with Moses and throughout all the writings of the prophets, He explained and interpreted for them the things referring to Himself found in all the Scriptures." (Luke 24:27) According to Jesus, the Scriptures that give witness to Him and that are valuable for instruction begin with the writings of Moses.
The Miracle at the Beginning
So what did Moses write about Jesus? Some commentaries may reference Deuteronomy 18:15 as a Messianic prophecy. But that is short-sighted for two reasons. First, Moses didn't only write Deuteronomy. He wrote four other books as well. And if we think Deuteronomy is credible enough to cite Messianic prophecy, then we must find his other books credible too. In other words, if we go about saying that Genesis and Exodus do not qualify as legitimate sources of Scripture from Moses, then who are we to say that Leviticus, Numbers, or Deuteronomy are? When Luke says that Jesus taught from the scriptures "beginning with Moses," why would we think that does not include Genesis? Those were the very first words written by Moses. It doesn't say that Jesus started teaching from the Scriptures about Moses' life but that He started from the words of Moses. He said specifically, "But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?" Maybe we should ask ourselves that today. Furthermore, the first Messianic prophecy we receive from Scripture comes from Genesis 3.
The second reason it is short-sighted to only reference Deuteronomy is that it forgets the Triune nature of God. Because humans are limited in their capacity, we sometimes find ourselves separating out the Trinity into three different Gods. That is simply because it is a difficult concept for us to comprehend. However, we must remember that it was not just God the Father at creation, God the Son at the crucifixion, and God the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. It was the Godhead three-in-one, ever present. John opens his gospel with this very point. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made." The Word was Jesus, and Jesus was in the beginning making all things. Without Jesus, nothing was made.
In talking about Jesus, Paul says in Colossians 1:15-17 "He is the exact living image [the essential manifestation] of the unseen God [the visible representation of the invisible], the firstborn [the preeminent one, the sovereign, and the originator] of all creation. For by Him all things were created in heaven and on earth, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities; all things were created and exist through Him [that is, by His activity] and for Him. And He Himself existed and is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." Paul says again in Ephesians 3:9, "and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ." Jesus was there at the beginning, at the creation of all things. God created through Jesus Christ and all things were created by Jesus, through Jesus, and for Jesus.
And so, the miracle, the supernatural event, of creation was done by the very words of Jesus, instantly and completely. When Jesus spoke, it happened immediately and fully. Jesus spoke light into existence and it immediately appeared and was completely accomplished. When Jesus spoke, the trees, the rocks, the animals, the birds, and the fish all came into existence immediately and completely. The nothingness was immediately and completely changed into something - this universe and all the variety of life that exists. Jesus supernaturally did instantly what nature would do slowly. Nature would slowly change water into wine, but Jesus did it instantly. Nature would slowly heal broken bodies, but Jesus did it immediately by the His spoken word. Those are the works that bear witness of His deity. And those are the words of Moses about Jesus from the very beginning that testify to Jesus. If we can't believe the words of Moses, how can we believe the words of Jesus?
It has been a while since I have posted, but these past several weeks I have been spending cherished time with my family. On March 7, 2016 my mom was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). Mom went through an intense six-week chemotherapy treatment at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The care she received there and the love and support from the staff was incredible. When she left at the end of that treatment, she was in remission. She took additional chemo through the summer of 2016 as a precaution to keep her in remission.
But on February 21 of this year, a regular blood check showed that the leukemia was back. She went through another several weeks of chemo back at the myelosuppression unit at Vanderbilt. The plan was to get her in remission again and then do a stem cell transplant. At the end of her chemo, my brother was identified as the match to be her donor, and we were getting everyone prepped for the transplant. Four days before the transplant we were told the leukemia was back yet again. She was put on a clinical drug trial that was extremely hard on her body. She start running fevers and was dehydrated from the nausea the drugs caused. So they admitted her back into the hospital. From there, things continued to go downhill. No matter what the doctors did, that leukemia just kept coming back. It was almost like the drugs were just making it mad - and it came back with a new vengeance each time.
On July 4, my mom was finally done with her battle. And because she loves Jesus with all her heart, I know that He called her home to be with Him as He promised in John 14:1-4. "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know."
What I wanted to share with you though is something my dad wrote. They were married for 42 years. And throughout this challenge, my dad had been writing to share with others what was going on with mom, not just the medical, procedural updates, but what God had been doing through this as well. So I've posted below his thoughts as we knew that mom was nearing the end of her battle and the end of her time here with us. It was an encouragement to many who knew my mom and knew what we all were facing in this. I hope that it can provide some encouragement to you as well.
Jan Update June 21, 2017
This may not be my final update but it will be near the end. We had hoped that the trial drug would bring this horrible disease into remission and we would go on to the stem cell transplant but it didn’t it didn’t work. The disease just seems to get angrier with each treatment. The wonderful staff at Vanderbilt University Medical Center has done everything they can do but it is just beyond their control. These are great people, kind and loving and very good at what they do. We could not have selected a better place to fight this fight. However, our loving God and Father has a different plan for Jan and for me. Some people may say that if there is a God then He must be mean or uncaring in this matter. Or may say this is proof that there is no God. But that is so sad and so untrue. God has held us in His arms all through this process and He proved that He loved us in that while we were still sinners, still unworthy, He sent His Son Jesus to die for us. He personally provided a gracious path to salvation, requiring nothing of us but putting our trust in His provision. In Galatians 2:20 Paul said, “The life I now live in the body I live by faith (by adhering to, relying on and completely trusting) in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
I was thinking while I have sat so many hours watching sweet Jan struggle with this challenge that I now have a very small, micro understanding, limited as my human mind is, of the emotions God the Father had as Jesus hung on that cross on that Friday afternoon 2,000 or so years ago. Never has absolutely perfect love and absolutely perfect hate existed side by side in the same moment. God looked at Jesus and all of His creation and loved like no other could love. God loves because that is His character. God loved the Son, and God loves all of us. But at the same time God hated. He hated the sin that had required the cross. He hated the sin that had spoiled His perfect creation. And He hated the sin that had perverted and corrupted man who was made in His image. When sin entered the world, death came into the world. God warned Adam that this would happen if he did not obey. After the fall God could have destroyed His creation and just walked away but His perfect love would not allow that. So to put His glorious majesty on display He made a promise to Adam and Eve that there would be One born of woman who would be 100% man and 100% God. He would know no sin and would therefore be the perfect spotless Lamb that could make atonement for man’s disobedience. God would Himself pay the sin debt of His creation. God Himself stepped out of the throne room of heaven to save us. The Creator saved the creature. So God knows perfect love and proves it by loving us and sacrificing Himself for us while we are still sinners. But He hates the sin that put all of this into motion. John Murray wrote, “God loved the objects of His wrath (that’s us) so much that He gave His own Son to the end that He by His blood should make provision for the removal of this wrath. It was Christ’s to deal with the wrath that the loved (that’s us) would no longer be the objects of wrath, and love would achieve its aim of making the children of wrath (that’s us) the children of God’s good pleasure.”
In a very small way I understand what He felt. I sit and look at Jan and I love her so dearly. And yet at the same time I hate this disease that has ravaged her that was the result of sin. Not something that she had done or I had done. God is not angry with us or punishing us. This is just the natural consequence of a sin that came into the world and corrupted His perfect creation. So as God loved us and loved the Son and yet hated Sin, I love Jan and hate the Sin that brought all of this corruption into our lives.
But what about Jan, sweet Jan? She knows her Lord and Savior and although it is scary she understands that she is going to a place where there are no more tears, no more sorrows and no more death and disease. She knows this because she knows the promises of God and she knows the character of God and she knows the peace of God, that peace that reassures the heart; that peace which transcends all understanding; that peace which stands guard over our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Jan knows where she is going and what glory awaits her there. We have already discussed this and we are going to be reunited one day. We are to meet at the south gate of heaven and I will be with her forever. In 2 Samuel 12 it records a child that was born out of the relations of David and Bathsheba. From birth the young boy was quite ill and David fasted and prayed all during the illness and then the child passed away. David got up washed his face and changed clothes and his servants were confused. David said nothing could be done for the child at this point. Then he said, “Can I bring him back again? I will go to him [when I die], but he will not return to me.” David knew one day he would see his child. And I know one day I will see my Jan.
Man looks at life as being a determinate time. It is finite from when we are conceived until we pass away. God does not look at the life of His children that way. He sees it as from the point in time we are conceived projecting out as a ray into eternity. So God looks at His children moving on to be with Him as merely a change of venue. There is not end to our life just a change of location, a change of scenery, and a change of experience.
But you say, “Isn’t that tragic, isn’t that such a loss?” Well yes. It is a terrible loss for me, her family and all who are left behind. But for Jan this is her reward. Our Lord will usher her into heaven saying, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” In the gospel of John chapter 11 the apostle tells us about the passing of a good friend of Jesus. When Jesus arrived in the town of Bethany, Lazarus had been dead 4 days. Mary and Martha, Lazarus’ sisters, were distraught. They knew Lazarus was in heaven and that he would be raised in glory on the last day. But they were overcome with grief, just as I am. The shortest verse in Scripture then says, “Jesus wept.” Jesus was not weeping for Lazarus because Lazarus had his reward. Jesus wept for Mary and Martha and their unquenchable grief. He wept at the sin that had brought about death in the beginning. He knew He would raise Lazarus from the dead but still He wept. I believe that Jesus is weeping now, not for Jan because He will take care of her, but for me and all her family and friends. We will suffer loss and she will receive glory. It does not record Lazarus’ words after Jesus raised him from the dead and gave him life, but I think I know what he said. Don’t quote me but I think when Lazarus walked out of that tomb and saw his Lord and Savior he said, “Why did you do this Lord? I was just fine, everything was great. Now I have to go back and plow the field, pull weeds, pay taxes and go through all of this again.” I won’t swear by that but I think he may have thought that even if he didn’t say it. Lazarus had his victory and Jan will have hers.
We are a product of our collective experiences. Now the world categorizes these experiences as good things and bad things. Or happy, joyful experiences and traumatic, tragic experiences. And interestingly all that the world’s or man’s philosophy can come up with to understand or ease our minds to all of this is to say, “Celebrate the joyous times and look at the tragedies as that which will make you stronger.” Friedrich Nietzsche said, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” That is really the best man can do. It’s not bad, maybe even a little pithy. But let’s look at God’s way of thinking. God says there are not two bags of life experiences but only one. Yes, this one bag contains good and bad, joyful and tragic, experiences. God says they are all meaningful, all profitable within His calculus. How can that be? I mean tragic things are tragic by definition. If they weren’t tragic…well they wouldn’t be tragic, they would be good. However it is all in how you approach them. Look at Romans 5:1-5 “Therefore, since we have been justified (that is acquitted of sin, declared blameless before God) by faith, (Let us grasp the fact) we have peace with God (and the joy of reconciliation with Him) through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we also have access by faith into His (remarkable state of) grace in which we (firmly and safely and securely) stand. Let us rejoice in our hope and confident assurance of (experiencing and enjoying) the glory of (our great) God.
And not only this, but (with joy) let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressures, trouble) produces patient endurance; and endurance proven character (spiritual maturity); and proven character, hope and confident assurance (of eternal salvation).
Such hope (in God’s promises) never disappoints us, because God’s love has been abundantly poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
God tells those who are His children, those who have come to Christ by turning from their sin and accepting His gracious gift of salvation through Christ, that they can and should rejoice in everything in that bag of experiences. Do what? We can find joy or rejoice in everything that comes into our life as a child of God? Well, yes, that is exactly what He is saying. And not only can we rejoice because it builds our character but because in the life of a person who loves God and therefore is called by God for some purpose he can know with a certainty that all that is in that bag of experiences will work through God’s plan for some good. Look at Romans 8:28 “And we know (with great confidence) that God (who is deeply concerned about us) causes all things to work together (as a plan) for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.”
We can with confidence look in our bag and see all of these life experiences and classify them all as a tool within the plan and purpose of God to bring about some greater good, all to His glory. So the bad experiences we endure, although not pleasant and we may grieve for having walked that road, for the child of God, that experience will pay dividends. We may never see it to fruition but we can know by the sovereign promise of our God that it will come to pass. We don’t have to be anxious or worry about these experiences but can rejoice in them. When Peter and John were hauled before the religious leadership and reprimanded for preaching about Jesus they were beaten and warned and sent on their way. And it says in Acts 5:41 “So they left the council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy (dignified by indignity) to suffer shame for the sake of His name.” Given what Christ had done for them, they thought it was an honor to suffer just a little for Him.
And in all of this we don’t have to worry, we don’t have to be anxious or fretful or panicky or even uncomfortable because the Lord is right beside us in dealing with the challenge or the after effects and nightmares that may come after the challenge. Philippians 4:4-7 “Rejoice in the Lord always (delight, take pleasure in Him); again I will say rejoice! Let your gentle spirit (your graciousness, unselfishness, mercy, tolerance and patients) be known to all people. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything (every circumstance and situation) by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving continue to make your specific requests known to God.
And the peace of God (that peace that reassures the heart, that peace) which transcends all understanding (that peace which) stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus is yours.”
For the child of God the entire bag of life experiences is of one value because all will be used by God to bring, through His plan and purpose, some eternal good, and all to His glory. In this I don’t know who may come to Christ and then lead others to Christ or do great things for the sake of the gospel because of Jan’s beautiful inspiring spirit. Jan has had an amazing impact on all those she has come in contact with and many who have just heard about her challenge. For a year and a half she has done her job and done it well. I am so proud of her and love her even more because of her witness. Her strength and her faith have served her well. She has been used of God and what greater privilege can be bestowed on the child of the Father than that.
Thank you all and may God bless each of you.
The latest Defend the Faith posting can be found at Mama Bear Apologetics. The article link is below...
Typically when I go to different venues to speak or teach, I begin by explaining the importance of being able to defend your faith. I illustrate the kinds of questions that we as Christians must be prepared to answer. We are in a time where we can’t just quote scripture; we must understand the logic behind what we believe, and the validity of those beliefs as grounded in truth. I usually give personal examples of the skepticism that I have encountered through my career as an engineer. I quickly realized that before I could tell people how to have reconciliation with God for their sins, they must first understand that there is a God.
That is why it is so important to teach our children why Christianity is true – so they can be prepared for those conversations. But teaching our children apologetics can’t stop with just defending God’s existence, the truth of Scripture, and the deity of Jesus. It must continue with the apologetic defense for a complete Biblical worldview, which includes a Biblical worldview on cultural issues. We can’t tell our children to believe Christianity “because the Bible says so.” Similarly, we can’t we tell them to respond a certain way to social and cultural issues just “because the Bible says so.” Now, don’t mistake what I’m saying here. I am not saying that we are not using the Bible to form our views on social issues (otherwise I wouldn’t have called it a Biblical worldview). What I am saying is that we must actually explain what the Bible says on those issues...
To continue reading, go to mamabearapologetics.com/congratulations-youve-defended-bible-now/
I am in the process of finishing up my second book which tackles the existence of suffering. But while in some conversations on the topic, I’ve encountered a challenging idea that I wanted to address here. Many people struggle with the perceived conflict of a good, loving God and the existence of evil and suffering. The explanation for how those two coexist encompasses the concept of man’s free will. We have the ability to make our own choices and thus at times we must face the consequences of those choices. Now, this reasoning doesn’t account for all types of suffering; there are many examples of suffering that is not due to our actions. But many times our suffering comes as the cost of making the choice to disobey God or the choice to sin. Not always, but sometimes. In those cases, our suffering may simply be the natural outflow of our actions. For example, if you choose to smoke your entire life, then the natural consequence may be that you develop certain types of cancers and diseases. That would be a natural consequence of your free-will decision to engage in that activity. Biblically, we could use Samson as an example of that. He chose to stay entangled with deceitful women and therefore eventually paid the price by being betrayed by one of those women.
Sometimes our suffering is a result of judgment for our free will choices. When your free-will choice is to violate the laws of the state, then you will face punishment for those crimes, which involves pain and suffering. Biblically, we know that God does judge against wickedness and sin. He passed severe judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah for their wicked ways. They freely chose to walk in disobedience, therefore, they faced suffering as a consequence of those choices. I see this constantly with my children. Out of their free will, they may choose to jump on the couch. They then face the natural consequence of falling and getting hurt, as well as the consequence of punishment when they get spanked for jumping on the furniture.
Why Free Will?
If God gave us free will to choose how we respond to Him yet knew we would suffer from our choices, then why did He give us free will in the first place? The short answer is that God wanted us to love. He didn’t make us to be robots only responding in obedience because we were forced to or obligated to. God desired loving fellowship from His creation. But to have love, it must be freely chosen and freely given. We can understand that in our earthly relationships as well. Love from another person is only real if the person has a choice to love or to not love. It is the same way with God. However, when we choose to not love God and to not walk in obedience then we suffer the consequences.
This line of reasoning can help us understand that God can exist even though there is suffering. However, recently I have encountered a new question in relation to this argument. What about when we die? As Christians, we share with people how in Heaven there are no more tears, no more pain. So is there free will in Heaven? If you answer yes, then why is there suffering here but not in Heaven? It says we are capable of having free will but not having suffering. But if you answer “no,” then apparently God does want robots programmed to obey Him. It says He would require people to love Him once they are in Heaven because He would have removed their free will.
On the surface it appears to be quite the conundrum. To answer this we must understand the doctrine of salvation. Even though there is a distinct moment of salvation for a believer that is not where it stops. Granted, the process of salvation may appear in some churches today to mean walking down to the front of the church and signing a membership card, but that is not it either. The process of salvation involves three phases: justification, sanctification, and glorification. Justification is a one-time work of God resulting in the believer’s salvation. The sinner confesses their sins before a just and holy God and receives the forgiveness offered through Jesus Christ. In that moment, they are declared innocent in God’s judgment over sin; they are justified through the payment made by Jesus on their behalf. Once the believer has been justified, then sanctification begins.
Sanctification is a process, beginning with justification and continuing throughout life. If justification is the starting point of the line that represents one’s Christian life, then sanctification is the line itself. At the point of justification, the believer becomes a “new creation” and the old things are to pass away (2 Cor. 5:17). What does that mean? It means we are no longer to live as slaves to sin but to live as God’s forgiven child. Paul describes this in Romans 6 as reckoning ourselves to be “dead indeed to sin, alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We are not to let sin reign over us as though we are to obey its lusts. Instead we present ourselves as instruments of righteousness before God. However, we still live in a sinful and corrupt world. The threat of sin and temptation of the lusts of the flesh are all around us. Therefore we must daily die to ourselves, to put away those fleshly desires and to desire the righteousness which is from God. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” It is a continual thing where God is changing our hearts to no longer desire the sinful things of this world. He transforms us to desire the things of God.
What Does This Have to Do with Free Will?
What does this have to do with free will? Well, whether you have become a believer or not, you still have free will to choose disobedience or obedience to God. But once you have become a believer, your desires have changed to truly want to do the things of God. You now desire to please God instead of please yourself. According to Romans 8:5, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” Paul explains this again in Galatians 5:16-17, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” There is this battle between the desires of the flesh and the desires of the Spirit – and they are diametrically opposed. Once you have received justification in salvation then you are in the Spirit. The sanctification that follows is the process of growing the believer to desire the things of the Spirit. You can still freely choose disobedience but the desires of your heart are now to do the will of God instead of your own will.
But that is much easier said than done! The great apostle Paul even tells of this struggle. “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.” (Romans 7:19-20) So Paul, having been justified, now desires to do the will of the Lord but because there is still sin here, he struggles and fails – as do the rest of us! It means I am not unique in my struggle of things of the flesh against things of the Spirit. He wants to do good, to obey God; and he wants to not do evil, to not disobey. Yet because of the presence of sin still in this world he finds himself doing the opposite. It is here where the believer longs for the final phase of our salvation: glorification.
Glorification: Our New Nature
Glorification is God's final removal of sin from the life of the believer in the eternal life. God’s glory will be realized in us; instead of being mortals burdened with sin nature, we will be changed into holy immortals with direct and unhindered access to God’s presence. It is the culmination of sanctification. We will no longer have that human nature that our spirits continually fight against. We will have a completely new nature.
We often think about it as one day receiving our glorified bodies that are free from disease, weakness, and frailty. But what makes those bodies free from disease, weakness, and frailty is existing in the absence of sin. And now we can start to see how we have free will in Heaven, yet no suffering there. Revisit the struggle that Paul describes. We desire to do good. We want to obey. But because of sin, we struggle. We are tempted, and we fail. What if those fleshly lusts and temptations were no longer around? What if you were free from the presence of sin? Then we can fully accomplish our true desire in our heart – which is to obey God and walk in His ways.
Look at the words from Hebrews 12:1-2 calling us to live our lives in godliness. The author says to, “Lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” So what if there were no weights anymore? What if there were no sin to easily ensnare us? Then we can live in that full godliness, in full obedience unto Christ. When we make those choices to walk with God, then there is no place for suffering. There is no suffering sin’s natural consequences if there is no sin. There is no suffering punishment for disobedience if no one disobeys. There is no need for trials to grow our faith and lead others to salvation if our faith is fully realized and all have salvation. There is no need for pain from discipline if we are all walking rightly with God. We will be unencumbered by the flesh to freely choose that which we truly desire, which is God. We will have free will and our will is to obey God. We will have no suffering because we will no longer stumble in our choice of obedience due to the presence of sin.
Defend the Faith Ministry has now teamed up with Mama Bear Apologetics. The following blog is my first post with the Mama Bears. We have a common goal to help moms (and dads!) understand the importance of teaching their children how to defend their faith. The moment we begin to instruct them in Biblical knowledge is the same moment the world begins to scheme to take that knowledge way. Therefore, from the earliest stages of raising children, we must be ready to defend that knowledge against the skepticism from the world. I hope you'll follow along in this journey of equipping others to Defend the Faith and encouraging the Mama Bears to protect the faith of their children.
I graduated valedictorian from a nationally ranked International Baccalaureate high school. I finished summa cum laude with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in engineering – all in five years while playing on a volleyball scholarship. Fresh out of college, I was a project lead on a new device for the PAC-3 missile system. Later I worked as a systems engineer for a new launch vehicle program at NASA. At that point, my husband and I were expecting our first child. And God rocked my world. Not just with motherhood, but by calling me to quit my job and stay home with our son. I never thought I would do that! My plans were to continue working my way up at NASA, but God’s plans were different. I went from reviewing the main propulsion system design on a rocket to keeping up with how often my son pooped each day. I went from assessing launch pad capabilities that support the launch vehicle system requirements to singing nursery rhymes and teaching shapes and colors. And it made my head hurt. It actually made my head hurt to change from my engineering career to my mommy career (let’s face it, it is simply an unpaid, no-vacation-allowed career). And now this little guy that rocked my world will be starting kindergarten this fall, and he has a little brother just 20 months behind him. Yikes. And that definitely still makes my head hurt!
Don’t get me wrong. I love what God has called me to. I was surprised as all get out, but God always knows what He’s doing. I’ll admit, some days it is still hard to remember why I left a place where my opinion was valued to go somewhere that I’m lucky if anyone acknowledges that I’ve spoken (ok, usually yelled) their name. I went from being trusted with decision making on NASA design implementations to being questioned if I know that “aten” is not a word.
While on this course of teaching these little guys their colors, how to read, and why those sounds shouldn’t be made at the table, I’m trying to instill in them the truth about God.
Read more here...
This weekend is a special time of remembrance for the Christian faith. It is the time where we reflect on the crucifixion and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In light of that it’s a good idea to remember what makes this particular trial and execution so significant – significant enough to alter the history of mankind. Although scoffers try to claim Jesus never existed and that this never happened, we know from other ancient documents outside of the Bible that Jesus did exist and was crucified. In the writings of Tacitus, a Roman historian writing from AD 56 to 117, he relates this about Jesus: “Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate.” The historical accounts from Tacitus and other ancient texts confirm that this Jesus was a real person who was crucified by Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberius.
But if this Jesus who is called the Christ were just a man, what significance would there be in his execution? Why would this be noteworthy to Tacitus, or to history in general? It wasn’t just because he was an innocent man. If Jesus were just an innocent man, convicted and executed for a crime he did not commit, then his execution would be shameful and sad. But that would not really matter to the rest of the world. So one may say it was significant because of the reason behind his execution. Jesus was not convicted for something He did but for who He claimed to be. He claimed to be God which the High-Priest determined to be blasphemy punishable by death. (Although under Jewish law it would have been death by stoning. But since the Jews were under Roman authority at the time, the punishment was crucifixion).
However, in studying Acts 5, we see that even that was nothing of importance. Gamaliel, the well-respected Pharisee, said that many had claimed to be the Messiah and thus sealed their fate to be executed as a blasphemer. A man named Theudas made that claim and even had 400 followers. When he was executed, his disciples scattered; and it came to nothing. Then Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census with many followers. When he was executed, his many followers dispersed; and it came to nothing.
So why is it that we remember the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth? Because of what happened after His execution. See, when Theudas and Judas of Galilee were executed for claiming to be the Messiah, their followers scattered. Why? Because their leader, a mere mortal man, was now dead. But when Jesus of Nazareth was crucified for claiming to be the Messiah, He died and was buried. But He did not stay that way. He resurrected. And his followers did not scatter and disperse; they became bolder. They traveled far and wide preaching in the name of this Jesus of Nazareth – and they did so in the face of intense persecution. As Gamaliel had predicted, this was the evidence that this incident with Jesus was not like the others. When the Jewish council was debating what to do with Peter and John who were still preaching the name of Jesus, Gamaliel advised, “So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!”
For Gamaliel, it was the after effects of the crucifixion that would prove whether this thing was from God or man. So it is the response to this claim of the resurrection that gives us the evidence of its truth. Consider the responses of those who loved and followed Jesus. The disciples’ response to the news of the empty tomb at first was skepticism – until they saw it for themselves. They were in hiding, mourning the loss of their beloved Messiah and fearing their own fate at the hands of the Pharisees. But once they witnessed the resurrection, their focus changed from their own security to the urgency of sharing the Gospel of salvation. The truth of what they had seen with their own eyes and touched with their own hands made a drastic impact on their lives. And they devoted the remainder of their lives sharing that good news of the resurrection to others around the world.
But the news of the resurrection also impacted those who were not followers of Jesus. His ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection were all done publicly, out in the open for friend and foe to see. Peter reminds the Jewish people of that in his first sermon delivered at Pentecost. He said, ““Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.” Peter spoke on these things again after healing the lame man on the temple steps: “whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.” As Paul would say later, those things were “not done in a corner.” All of those people had seen the work Jesus had done, His miracles, His power over sickness, nature, and demons. They had all witnessed, no, not just witnessed, but participated in his crucifixion. They had all cried out, “Give us Barabbas!” They had jeered and mocked Him at His death. And they had witnessed His resurrection.
The response to note here though is that of the Pharisees to Peter’s statements. Did they say to the crowds that Peter and John were just as crazy as Jesus? Did they go to the tomb and produce the body of Jesus to shut them up? No. It says they were astonished at Peter and John’s boldness and wisdom – until they recognized they had been with Jesus. The Pharisees were unable to refute that the lame man had been healed in the name of Jesus. And they were afraid of the spread of Jesus’ name. The response of the Pharisees shows us the veracity of the claims made by Peter and John. They could not refute the power done in the name of Jesus. And they could not refute the claims of the resurrection. They could only make futile attempts to stop the spread of these things.
The reaction of Paul to the resurrection gives evidence of its occurrence as well. Paul’s encounter with the resurrected Jesus drastically changed his life. It changed him from persecuting those who claimed the name of Jesus to being persecuted for proclaiming the name of Jesus. He changed from speaking against Jesus to speaking for Jesus. He went from being feared by the other apostles to being accepted into their fellowship. He transformed from a Jewish Pharisee despising Gentiles to the apostle preaching salvation to the Gentiles. Paul himself credited such a complete transformation to the one event of meeting the resurrected Jesus. To change that much from one event tells us that event did occur.
There is also the reaction of James, the brother of Jesus, who was not a disciple or follower of Jesus. In fact, none of His brothers believed (John 7:5). They even tried to pull Jesus out of ministering to the crowds when the crowds became too great (Mark 3). Their unbelief is quite astonishing when you consider the testimony of their mother as to the conception of Jesus! Not much else is said about the family of Jesus throughout the Gospel accounts. However, the next time we see James he is presiding over the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. James led the other apostles in determining the guidelines for new believing Gentiles. He became the leader of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 21). Paul referred to James as an apostle in his letter to Galatia. And James was eventually martyred for his faith by the Jewish leaders there in Jerusalem.
What would have caused such a difference? How did James grow up in the same house as Jesus, witnessing His ministry from the very beginning, and not believe, yet after Jesus’ crucifixion he became the leader of the church in Jerusalem, even dying for his belief? For that answer we go to 1 Corinthians 15:7. Paul reminded the Corinthians of the core doctrinal truths of Christianity that he had already taught them: that Christ died for our sins; that he was buried and raised again; and that many witnessed His resurrection. But look at the list of names that Paul provided who saw the resurrection. Jesus appeared to Peter, the twelve disciples, more than 500 at once, James, the apostles, and Paul himself. Jesus specifically appeared to His unbelieving brother James. So the drastic change in the life of James is directly attributed to his witness of the resurrected Jesus.
The reactions of friend and foe is what gives us, far removed in time and place, the confidence that it did indeed occur. It is the reaction to any historical even that confirms its veracity. For example, even if we didn’t have a single document remaining from the Revolutionary War, we know what truly happened because we have evidence of the reaction to it – the United States is functioning as a separate nation from England. Likewise, the ongoing reactions of both friend and foe to the resurrection of Jesus give us the confirmation that it really occurred. And the importance of that fact cannot be stated enough. It is the resurrection of Jesus that affirms His deity. It is that resurrection that conquers sin and death for those who believe.
Without the resurrection, our faith is meaningless. But with the resurrection comes eternal hope and salvation for all mankind. This is how those living alongside Jesus reacted to the resurrection. What will your reaction be?
 Tacitus, Annals 15.44
All scripture quotes are from the English Standard Version (ESV)
A majority of the New Testament addresses false teachers within the church. Passages such as 1 Timothy 4:1-2, 2 Peter 2:1, and Romans 16:17-20 talk about false teachers, doctrines of demons, destructive heresies, and deceiving spirits. Hebrews 13:9 comes with the warning to “not be carried away with various and strange doctrines.” Jesus even warned against the false prophets in Matthew 7 saying, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”
will be led away into destruction. Think of the imagery of the ravenous wolves. This is why we are also called throughout scripture to be discerning. We are to always judge what is taught to us against what is in the Scriptures, just like the Bereans did (which implies we must first know what the scriptures say). We are even told to test the spirits to see what is truly from God because not all “spiritual” things are from God.
But Satan, as the father of lies and the great deceiver, is much shrewder than we give him credit for being. He knows that even the least knowledgeable person of the scriptures could detect certain heresies as blatantly false. So he is trickier than that; he works like the old saying “stealing the sausage one slice at a time.” It is the slow deception of the truth that leads us down the bigger path towards the false , thus, the title of this post: the subterfuge of Satan. Subterfuge is defined as “deception in order to achieve one’s goal.” In order to see how Satan is going to deceive us, we have to think about what his goal is. What is Satan’s end game? To lead as many people away from God and out of God’s presence as he possibly can. That is his single mission. How does he achieve that? Deception. Satan even parades as an angel of light for the express purpose of deceiving us. Before we see what takes us out of God's presence and away from God, we must see what makes us in God's presence and with God. According to John 14:6, the only way to God is through Jesus. John reiterates that point in 1 John 5:12: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” And Romans 10:9 tells us, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” So anything that is different from that truth will accomplish Satan’s goal. If he can get you to take one step away from that truth, then Satan wins. If he can pull you away from confessing Jesus is Lord, away from believing that God raised Him from the dead, and away from thinking that the only way to God is through Jesus, then Satan has deceived you with false doctrine unto your destruction. How does he deceive us into that?
How does Satan do that with us now? Well, we have a plethora of denominations that alter that core true doctrine of who Jesus is and what Jesus did. Some denominations say that Jesus wasn’t really God. If He wasn't God, then His sacrifice on the cross was insufficient. Many denominations say that you are saved by faith plus man’s traditions, man’s rituals, or man’s effort. They say if you do these steps or repeat these words then you can find forgiveness. They are just like the Judaizers adding to the work Jesus did on the cross as though it were insufficient, as though our effort has something to do with our salvation. But Ephesians 2:8-9 reminds us that it is only by grace through faith that we are saved, but it is not by our works, specifically so that we cannot boast in our salvation. It is only through the work Jesus did on the cross that we can boast, not in ourselves. Many denominations say that any path to God is valid. They don’t want to claim the exclusivity that Jesus claimed. When Jesus said that no one comes to the Father but through Him, Jesus was excluding all other religions as false and unacceptable to God. It doesn't matter how sincere or nice another religion is, it is equally abhorrent to God because it does not all on the name of Jesus for salvation. In each of these denominations, Satan has twisted scripture to lead people astray from true doctrine, which will lead to their destruction.
Some denominations even twist scripture to make it approve of sins in which they want to persist. They redefine the words clearly written in scripture so they can call “good evil and evil good.” They think since grace abounds we have no need for the law. But the law is useful, as Paul says in 1 Timothy 1, to show us our sin. He says the purpose of pointing out sin is to draw us to repentance. That is why in 1 Corinthians 5 Paul tells the church to call out one man’s sins so that “his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” The reason for identifying his actions as sin was so that the man’s spirit may be saved. What if Paul had never called that sin? The man would have persisted in that sin to the glory of his flesh but to the destruction of his soul. That is exactly what Satan wants. Satan twists scripture, so that we redefine sin, so that we may satisfy our flesh, but destroy our souls.
Yes, we are commanded to love one another. I am certainly not saying that we are not to do those things to help “the least of these.” But we are also commissioned to go and spread the Gospel because telling others about Jesus is showing love. So if you are going into the communities of the least of these to give them physical aid but never speak about Jesus, then you are missing the point of why Jesus sent us out. In Matthew 28:19 He said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” Yes, showing love and meeting physical needs should be a part of that. But the whole point is to make disciples, baptize them, and teach them to obey His words. Many churches reference Acts 1:8 for their model for mission. But that doesn’t tell us to pick a cool beach spot for our youth group to hand out bottled water. It tells us to be witnesses of Jesus to the world. Being a witness involves speaking. We are to tell people about Jesus first and foremost. Satan has won if he can convince us that we only have to be kind or show love and not speak the name of Jesus. Satan knows that we don’t have to teach false doctrine to prevent others from reaching God, we just have to neglect to tell them the true doctrine.
Imagine if in a war, our military was so focused on arguing over the color of their uniforms and which food was better to have in the field that they neglected to actually attack the enemy. Meanwhile, the enemy was busy plundering and slaughtering the local village and kidnapping our own military’s families. That sounds insane but that’s exactly what the church does when it becomes preoccupied with things indifferent instead of focusing on the lost and dying world around us. When we do that, not only do people die without salvation, but the enemy slips in and steals the minds and hearts of our children because we were too busy boycotting something to teach our children the fundamentals of their faith. We were too busy entertaining our children at church to educate them in the basic logic of Christianity. We were too busy making Christianity fun and palatable for the masses to give believers any depth of scriptural knowledge.
Satan is called the deceiver and the father of lies. His whole business is convincing you that the truth is not true. And he will resort to any means necessary to accomplish that goal. Be mindful of your adversary! He prowls around like a roaring lion seeking those whom he can devour. Don’t let that be you or your children. Be alert and watchful. Guard your mind, taking every thought captive. Demolish every argument he uses. Use the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God, to attack the enemy. Take up your armor and go to battle for the kingdom of God. Be deceived no longer.