Category Archives: Bible

Love in the Book of Acts

heart.gifHow many times do you think the word love is mentioned in the Book of Acts?  I often use this as a warm up question when teaching about evangelism.  The answers usually range from somewhere in the teens to over 100.

Before you answer, here are a few Acts facts to consider:

  • Acts has 28 chapters (the average book in the Bible has 18 )
  • Acts chronicles the spread of the early church over nearly 30 years, from Jesus’ final words and his ascension into Heaven all the way through the Apostle Paul’s imprisonment near the end of his life.
  • Acts includes 13 presentations of the Gospel to a variety of people – crowds, individuals, Jews, Gentiles, ordinary citizens, high-ranking government officials, etc.

So how many times it the word love is mentioned in Acts?

Here’s the answer: 0.  Zero.  Z-E-R-O.  Seriously.  Do a word search in your Bible software.  It’s OK, I didn’t believe it the first time I heard it.

So what’s the point?  Does that mean love isn’t important?  Of course not.  God displays perfect love throughout his Word and his love for us is displayed in the sacrifice of Jesus the Son on the cross.  And it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t mention God’s love when sharing the Gospel.

But it does tell us some important things about evangelism.  The history of the early church should certainly provide a model for how we should go about sharing the truth of the Gospel.  The primary model used in Acts was to lay out the facts of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and miracles and to highlight our need for him and his forgiveness.  There are calls for repentance.  But God’s love is never directly mentioned and there is no hint at universalism (the notion that everyone goes to Heaven). 

Preaching God’s unconditional love without the need for repentance and faith in Christ is not a Biblical model.  It can give people a false sense of security, as in, “God loves me without conditions?  Great!  No need to change anything.”

People need to understand the bad news (they are sinners against a perfect and Holy God and rightly destined for an eternity in Hell) before they realize their need for the Good News (Jesus took the punishment for our sins and we can be completely and eternally forgiven and reconciled to God if we put our faith in Jesus).

Also note that the Gospel presentations in Acts rebut the myth that Christianity involves faith without reason.  Each time the message is given it is based on facts, logic and appeals to reason.  At no point is the message to have blind faith.

Acts 17:29–31 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.

Read Acts for yourself and see what I mean, or read about Preaching God’s love in Acts.

Hat tip: Greg Koukl – Stand to Reason

Virtue-signaling “Christian” Leftists are worse than the hypocrites of Matthew 6

Because at least the hypocrites did something good!

Matthew 6:1–4 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

The Bible is clear that motives and behavior count. Doing your good deeds to be seen by others will merit you no rewards. This is what the hypocrites were doing at the time.

But at least they were doing something.  The virtue-signaling “Christian” Leftists mainly just beg “Caesar” to force you to fund counter-productive programs – and they think that fulfills the call in Matthew 25 to care for the “least of these.”  And yet they are simultaneously adamant that Jesus approves of abortion to the child’s 1st breath and that you should have to fund that as well. The are indescribably hostile to the “least of these” in the womb.

Their latest project is to reduce your safety and increase your taxes by removing strict guidelines on “refugees” from terror-sponsoring nations.  They falsely call it a “Muslim ban,” ignoring that 9 of the top 10 most populous Muslim countries aren’t on the lists.  And they either don’t know or don’t care that you could house 12 times the number of refugees closer to their country of origin.  These do-gooders will spare no expense (of yours) to highlight their virtue.

They also oppose the border wall, hysterically claiming it will cause “climate change.” This is another example where their malice shows through. Even if they wanted amnesty for illegals already in the country, they tip their hands by opposing a wall that would help reduce future illegals from entering the country.

As always, ask these “Christian” Leftists what they are doing with their own time and money to productively help the least of these.  Who would have thought that they would make the Matthew 6 hypocrites look good by comparison?

And keep doing truly good things with your time and your money and for God’s glory, not yours.

Matthew 5:14–16 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Very important distinctions on abortion & the LGBTQX lobby

Leftist — including “Christian” Leftists — tend to conflate issues and use false dichotomies rather than defend their views.  They pretend that you are either fully on board with the pro-LGBTQX agenda or that you hate them all, or that you are either pro-taxpayer-funded, legalized abortion to the child’s first breath or you hate women.  But there are some clear, simple distinctions they choose to ignore.

The Christian worldview is simple, Biblical and loving.  For example, consider our responses to the following scenarios.

  1. If you are thinking of having an abortion: Don’t.  It is a grievous sin to kill another person, let alone your child.  Find a pregnancy resource center in your area.  They will give you all sorts of help — for free! You are probably in a very complicated situation psychologically speaking, but the moral view here is simple: It is wrong to kill your child.
  2. If you have had an abortion: Forgiveness is possible through Jesus, but you must come to God on his terms — that is, to repent and believe in Jesus. I encourage you to get some post-abortion trauma counseling.  Try a local pregnancy resource center — they usually offer it for free.
  3. If you justify abortions as moral and/or biblical: You couldn’t be more wrong.  Repent of that evil.  Please watch this to understand the basics of pro-life reasoning, the biblical basis for the sanctity of human life and how to respond to pro-abortion arguments, or go through this site.  Advocating for abortion rights is evil.

Now on to the LGBTQX topic.

  1. If you are tempted by Same-Sex Attraction (SSA): Regardless of the root cause (abuse and/or bad relationships and/or rebellion) you’ll want to avoid acting out on the temptation. Do not hang out in person or online with “Christian” Leftists or others who will “affirm” your temptation and encourage you to act on it.  The battle is hard enough without asking Satan for advice. Talk to your pastor to find people of your gender that would be willing to visit with you and encourage you.
  2. If you are acting out on SSA or other LGBTQX behaviors (or any sex outside of a one man, one woman marriage): Stop. It is sinful and spiritually, emotionally and physically destructive.
  3. If you are justifying same-sex acts as biblical: Stop and repent. That is God-mocking and evil.  Get educated on what God’s word really says and stop agreeing with the world to maintain your popularity with it. Share the truth with grace.

So don’t let others pressure you to the side of evil because they have improperly framed the discussion. Just take a couple moments to show them that they are missing some key but simple distinctions.

The Hebrew midwives feared God. The “Christian” Left does not.

When the Pharaoh commanded that the Hebrew midwives kill any sons born to Hebrew women, they refused, and God rewarded them for it.  But the “Christian” Left would have been fine with killing the Hebrew males up to their first breath, and they insist that God would have approved.   They have made their pro-abortion views crystal-clear again and again and there is zero hyperbole in what I write about them.  It shows just how wickedly anti-Christ they are.

Exodus 1:8–22 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves. Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.” But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and let the male children live?” The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.”

Make no mistake: “Christian” Leftists are “midwives” who would have gladly partnered with Pharaoh to kill the lineage of Jesus.

 

So sheep food grows churches better than goat food? Who knew?

God, apparently.  But glad to see that some churches have caught on. The Hot ‘New’ Church Growth Method notes  that more conservative churches are growing faster than Leftist ones.

We must remember that religions can grow or shrink with bad doctrines or good.  If growth was the sole arbiter of soundness then Joel Osteen, Steven Furtick, Mormons, Muslims, etc. would be good people to go to.  But in our culture today, the “Christian” Left churches are doomed to shrink because they are indistinguishable from the world.  Why go to them for “doctrine” that is indistinguishable from the perversions, radical feminism and political correctness of college campuses, the mainstream media, and entertainment industries?  People can get God-mocking heresies for free 24×7.  Why waste time and money going to the “Christian” Left for more of the same?

Never forget that churchgoers who support “same-sex marriage”  — i.e., the “Christian” Left — have nearly identical views to the world on a host of issues such as abortion, adultery, porn, etc.  It shows who their real father is.
1 John 2:15-16 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.
Jude 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

James 4:4 You adulterous people!  Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?  Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

So there is good news here: Just preach from the Bible and you will probably grow.  And even if you don’t, you can be sure you’ve done the right thing.  Remember that preaching the Gospel honors Christ regardless of whether the hearers convert. It is always good to speak his truths.
Don’t worry about gimmicks to draw in the goats, especially when those tactics will starve or run off the sheep.  Don’t try to make the world love you.  It dishonors God and it won’t work.
Trust that the sovereign God will do just what He promised.  He is going to save those whose names He wrote in the Lamb’s Book of Life from before the world began.   The question is whether you and your church will be faithful to him in the mean time.

Revelation 20:15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

A simpler way to defend biblical inerrancy, infallibility and inspiration

Inerrancy and the Death by a Thousand Qualifications brought up some interesting points about how to defend the truth that the original writings of scripture were without error. If you offer too many qualifications then it seems to neuter your statement, but you do need to offer some sort of support.

I prefer to say that the original writings turned out exactly as God and the human writers desired, and that we can easily demonstrate that they have been faithfully transmitted to us in our language.

That appeals to the simple truth that the real God could — and would — easily ensure such a thing.

To the latter point I have found it persuasive to share a brief reference to the Dead Sea Scrolls and/or to the way even atheist Bart Ehrman will strenuously argue about what he thinks the originals really said on some finer point (meaning that even he thinks it can be known).  I have seen skeptics, Mormons, etc. immediately change their views on the transmission process (if not the inspiration) once they hear that.

Even though I believe that the original writings of the Bible were without error, God-breathed and incapable of error, those views aren’t required for belief in God or the resurrection.  You can take a minimal facts approach and see that even if there were slight discrepancies in the accounts about Jesus that the resurrection could still be true.

Just look at key facts that virtually all historians agree on, such as the following, and realize that his resurrection is the best explanation for those facts.

  • Jesus really lived and was killed on a Roman cross.
  • Jesus’ disciples believed He rose from the dead and appeared to them.
  • Paul believed that Jesus appeared to him.  Even skeptics concede that Paul wrote most of the books attributed to him, including Romans, Galatians, I & II Corinthians and others.
  • Jesus’ brother, James, was a skeptic who converted after Jesus died.

There are skeptics who endorse alternatives to the resurrection (e.g., Jesus’ body was stolen, it was ripped up by dogs, the swoon theory, etc.).  These folks unwittingly  give a lot of support for the resurrection: They show that the historical facts are so strong that one must concede that a real person named Jesus lived and died on a Roman cross and the body did not stay in the tomb. 

—–

bible5.gifClaims of Biblical inerrancy, inspiration and infallibility apply to the original writings.  I have researched countless difficulties and found answers that satisfied me.  Some are tougher than others.  Some things are in the Job category (as in, I’m not capable of understanding them or God doesn’t need me to understand them).

I learned enough about the book to be comfortable that God “wrote” it, and I trust that if there is something in the 1% that appears to be a contradiction then either there was a translation error or – much more likely – there is something I’m just not understanding properly.

In short, after working through enough difficulties with satisfactory answers I tend to give God and his Word the benefit of the doubt.  I’m sure this thrills him to no end.  I say that tongue-in-cheek, because on the one hand He certainly doesn’t need the Neil-seal-of-approval but on the other hand He does love it when we exercise faith.  Not blind faith, not faith despite the evidence, but faith grounded in the truths He has revealed to us.

Are there passages in the currently published Bibles that don’t belong?  Perhaps.  The ending of Mark and the story of Jesus and the woman accused of adultery are not in the earliest and best manuscripts.

Also, some verses sometimes lose a little meaning in certain translations.  For example, when Exodus 21:22-25 is properly understood it is a pro-life passage, yet pro-choice people will use a poorer translation (for that passage) such as the RSV because it supports their position.

These issues don’t bother me that much because they show that the system works: We have so many copies of ancient manuscripts and different translations that it possible to figure out what the originals said.  The exceptions are limited and we can show why they are exceptions.

But on most of what really matters there is no debate.  Every version I’ve seen says, “Love your enemies.”  There are 100 clear passages saying that Jesus is the only way.  That is plenty for me.

I know enough of the Bible and the difficulties to have great faith (trust in evidence) that God inspired the originals.  And I have faith in the copying and translation process so that I can read the Bible with confidence.  For difficult or controversial passages there are plenty of ways to resolve issues on the essentials.  But on the non-essentials I don’t lose sleep.

If people want to have church meetings to debate how often to serve communion, whether to use wine or grape juice, etc., I say go ahead and have a swell time.  Just don’t make me participate.

We can read the Bible with confidence that God has transmitted his Word to us accurately.  Sometimes the words inerrant, infallible and inspired are too loaded with various meanings to be helpful, so I like to emphasize that the original writings of the Bible turned out just the way God and the human writers wanted them to.

Video: A sermon on the book of Jude — A glorious salvation and refuting false teachers

I love the book of Jude.  So many great messages in just 25 verses, and still so relevant!  He perfectly describes the “Christian” Left false teachers of today while opening and closing with magnificent passages about all that Jesus has done and will do for us.  I gave this message when our pastor was sick last week.