Posts Tagged ‘ Apologetics ’

Too Edgy

I am doing a short series! We are going through some of the sayings of Jesus that can be … confusing … difficult … misapplied … whatever!

What does this mean? I will look at passages that I have personally heard misapplied, misunderstood, or simply confusion expressed over what Jesus meant.

Three weeks we looked at blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

Two weeks ago we looked at Jesus saying Christians should be perfect.

One of these appeared on The Domain for Truth to help out SlimJim with some coverage of his blog while he travels. (No judging me, now. I shared it here on this blog!)

Now, what is our next passage? (Maybe you already have an idea based on the title.)

Two swords? What about peace?

And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.”
Luke 22:35-38, ESV

Okay. What’s up here? Was it not Jesus who said we should avoid violence, turning the other cheek and whatnot?

Perhaps now you see why some people struggle with understanding the Bible. Maybe you are one of those people.

What was Mr. Peace-Nick Godman getting at?

Firstly, let us remember Jesus’ own words:

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
Matthew 10:34

It would be very easy to take this out of context, so how about we take a look at that context to understand better what Jesus meant about bringing a sword:

“So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Matthew 10:32-39, ESV

So, we know that Jesus will divide families, friends, and communities, but this is definitely a figurative sword. We are to love God so much that it is as of we hate our family and friends in comparison. (But we love them all the more through God’s love!)

Perhaps we need to keep in mind that we are to defend the weak and defenseless. This is perhaps the most applicable literal sense of having a sword. Sure, self-defense may be a part of it, too, but probably defending others is more accurate.

We also need to consider the other meaning Jesus may have had:

and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God
Ephesians 6:17

We know that the Word of God is often referenced as a sword (Hebrews 4:12; Revelation 1:16, 2:12, 19:15), so this definitely far from being outside of the realm of possibility.

However, we also must remember what He said in Luke 22:37 above, that the scripture must be fulfilled that He was numbered with the transgressors.

Obviously, this points to being hung on a cross between two criminals, but I offer one other possibility (from Jesus’ arrest):

And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the servant[h] of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”
Luke 22:49-53, ESV

You can probably imagine the Apostles’ thoughts: “He said have swords, so now that He is about to be arrested, is this the time He finally overthrows the leaders and takes control?”

But Jesus also hints that at this moment it appears He is already being considered counted among transgressors, as a conquering king raising an insurrection. It is made more likely an assertion with Peter striking Malchus’ ear off. (See John 18:10)

I would even argue that all of these are the reasons Jesus said to get a sword to the Twelve (well … Eleven).

Jesus must be numbered as one guilty of raising a rebellion.

But for us …

Defend the weak and powerless.

Be prepared to share the Word of God.

Be prepared to be numbered with Jesus.

Nothing New: The Church’s Foundation: Part 4: Essene and Heard


I am currently the Youth Pastor for The Church Next Door in Prescott Valley, AZ. On Sunday, August 11, 2019, I took over teaching the adult Sunday School class (the foundation of why we learn from history) before the regular service. (If you find yourself in North Central Arizona, specifically the Prescott Valley area, come join in from 8:45 to 9:45 AM, and then stay for the singing and sermon at 10!)

The second and third lessons were combined in the post two weeks ago, with a look at when the Church was founded and the various forms of leadership Jesus dealt with. Previous was a look at how he rebuked those in leadership.

Again, here are my notes:

Nothing New: The Importance of Church History

Lesson 7: Christ and the Church’s Foundation – Modern Comparisons

The leadership in the time of Jesus included the entirely secular yet pagan Roman Empire, the hyper-religious Pharisees, the super-compromised Sadducees, the fastidious Essenes, and the rebellious Zealots.

Briefly, how do we see nothing new in our leadership?

Modern comparisons:

  • The Divided leadership (remember that there can be bleed-over from group to group):
    • Pharisees – Got a lot right, but added a lot.
    • Sadducees – The compromised
    • Essenes – The Preservation of Scripture
      • Mainly felt like they had to separate from corrupt society.
        • Essentially lived in communes (Yeah, kinda like hippies, but also very little like hippies.)
        • Not completely absent: Still had people living in town
          • Could help with supply runs, news of events, keep tabs on society.
        • Their main goal was the preservation of the Torah, other important writings, and godliness.
          • Think of Qumran, the place of the Dead Sea Scrolls. These were those people!
      • Messiah – Oh, he was coming soon!
        • Probably understood better than most what the Messiah was going to be like, expecting more of a great religious leader.
          • Most closely associated with Pre-Millennialism today.
          • Most likely played a large role in creating copies of the gospels and letters of the New Testament.
          • Probably disappeared as a sect because most believed their Messiah had come and obeyed the Great Commission
      • See Mark 14:12-16: Was this man possibly an Essene disciple that Jesus planned with to avoid confrontation with the Pharisees and Sadducees? (Also, people living in Jerusalem were required to share space with pilgrims during the Passover, so it could just be some “random guy” and Jesus used foreknowledge to tell Peter and John what to look for.)
      • Modern comparisons:
        • Obviously Monks, much of the Catholic priesthood and nuns
        • Many evangelical churches/denominations obviously fit this description of being largely separated from though still amongst society.
        • Some mainline denominations match up, especially those that have split over compromises with society
          • i.e. Anglican Church North America splitting from the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Church of Canada (the breaking straw being the ordination of practicing homosexuals and allowing for gay marriage)
        • Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Churches and the like
          • Obviously more extreme, being King James Only-ists: all other translations/versions are satanic and lead to corruption.
          • The most extreme examples of this would be Westboro Baptist Church (basically the Phelps family) and its spiritual successor Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, AZ (pastored by Steven Anderson)
        • For a different extreme:
        • New Apostolic Reformation and other ultra-/super-charismatic churches and movements
          • Yes, they are under this list, too. Stay tuned for more!
          • They definitely separate themselves out as different.
            • The Seven Mountain Mandate demands they work toward “reclaiming” the seven major areas of society until the whole world is under Christ’s authority. So, separate but only in how they do things.
          • Also copy scripture, but typically by making drastic changes.
            • The most recent example is probably The Passion Translation. It is not really a translation, more of an untrustworthy paraphrase that makes some drastic changes. (Still in progress: only has the Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Songs, and the New Testament.)
        • Most cults that separate and add to Scripture
          • These are the crazy people who obviously get brainwashed/do the brainwashing and often lead to dangerous and even deadly practices.



Don’t Fear the Reaper

I am doing a short series! We are going through some of the sayings of Jesus that can be … confusing … difficult … misapplied … whatever!

What does this mean? I will look at passages that I have personally heard misapplied, misunderstood, or simply confusion expressed over what Jesus meant.

Also, one of these should be appearing on The Domain for Truth later this month to help out SlimJim with some coverage of his blog while he travels. (No worries. I will share it here on this blog when it happens!)

Two weeks we looked at blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

Last week we looked at Jesus saying Christians should be perfect.

Now, what is our next passage? (Maybe you already have an idea based on the title.)

Fear the One Who Gives a Damn

“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.
“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 10:24-28, ESV

Firstly, thank you in advance for your forgiveness for my play on words, but it is appropriate. Because we are discussing the one who literally damns people to Hell.

Secondly, if you search the simple man of God posts, you will find strong evidence that I am a big fan of – not so much Blue Oyster Cult who sings “Don’t Fear the Reaper”, though I do appreciate their talent – Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. That is the source of my quote for the title of this post.

Why do I like those movies?

I am a huge sci-fi nerd, and I also like making connections with the gospel. And, if you click on the titles of the movies up above you will see how I did that with these movies.

The connection today, though, is that our society has a tendency to misconstrue our fear of death.

Whether it is the personification of Death as the Grim Reaper or some other source, we are often told to have a fear of what is to come after this life if we are apart from Christ.

And the biggest source of fear that even many churches have preached?

Satan.

The Devil.

Lucifer.

Beelzebub.

Choose your name/title.

Perhaps you have heard people speaking of watching out that the Devil could drag you to Hell, or maybe that (like in Bogus Journey) the Grim Reaper will lead you either to Heaven or Hell.

Well, guess what. Neither of those are true in the least.

Firstly, we have two concepts of Hell that we need to deal with:

  1. The idea we have of a malevolent being taking us to a fiery (or frigid) place to be tormented comes largely from Norse mythology. We got a slight glimpse of this from Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok a couple of years ago, when Thor’s half-sister Hela appeared. This was a twisting of the original mythology, because Hel was really the one who was half dead/half alive (look it up, if you can stomach it) who was a trickster and liked to torment people in a place of rivers and fire.
  2. Christianity does have something that we expect to see that is similar yet also quite different:

    2 Peter 2:4For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;
    Jude 1:6And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day.

    When Peter said “hell” it was the Greek word “Hades”. The Hebrew equivalent is “Sheol”. So the current place we think of as Hell is a prison for fallen angels. (Think back to Genesis 6, those few verses before Noah is mentioned.)

    And secondly: Revelation 20:7-15 discusses that Satan, the Antichrist, the False Prophet, Death, and Hades are all thrown into the Lake of Fire, the place of eternal torment. Oh, and it finishes with all those who are not found in the Lamb’s Book of Life being thrown in, as well.

What does this mean?

Notice, the Devil is not dragging people into Hell. He, and many others, are thrown in. Either they are in chains now, or they are in the burning lake of fire in eternity.

Who does the throwing?

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 10:29-33

The Lord Himself casts those who rebel against Him into eternal torment.

Therefore, when Proverbs says repeatedly something along the lines of “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge,” it is very literal.

We should begin with a fear (yes, a dread) of God, because we are sinners in need of forgiveness.

Then, our fear can turn to that respect and awe when we realize the Christ was sacrificed so that we could have that needed forgiveness. All we must do is repent (change our entire way of thinking) and believe. (And the Holy Spirit helps with these, too!)

Don’t fear the reaper. Or the Devil. Or anyone else.

Only fear God.

And I pray that fear leads to the knowledge of the Son of God and His work on the cross for your salvation.

Nothing New: The Church’s Foundation: Part 4: Legalists

I am currently the Youth Pastor for The Church Next Door in Prescott Valley, AZ. On Sunday, August 11, 2019, I took over teaching the adult Sunday School class (the foundation of why we learn from history) before the regular service. (If you find yourself in North Central Arizona, specifically the Prescott Valley area, come join in from 8:45 to 9:45 AM, and then stay for the singing and sermon at 10!)

The second and third lessons were combined in the post two weeks ago, with a look at when the Church was founded and the various forms of leadership Jesus dealt with. Previous was a look at how he rebuked those in leadership.

Again, here are my notes:

Nothing New: The Importance of Church History

Lesson 5: Christ and the Church’s Foundation – Modern Comparisons

The leadership in the time of Jesus included the entirely secular yet pagan Roman Empire, the hyper-religious Pharisees, the super-compromised Sadducees, the fastidious Essenes, and the rebellious Zealots.

Briefly, how do we see nothing new in our leadership?

Modern comparisons:

  • The Divided leadership (remember that there can be bleed-over from group to group):
    • Pharisees – Got a lot right, but added a lot.
      • Legalism – Follow our rules our way, or you are a heathen
        • Matthew 15:1-9 (quoting Isaiah 29:13)
        • Colossians 2:4-10
      • Expected a Messiah to come, but they were willing to work with the government.
        • Many expected two messiahs: conquering king and reforming high priest
          • Think Ezra and Nehemiah as precursors
      • Very similar to Post-millennial Christians and wanting the religious leadership in charge.
      • Modern equivalents: Roman Catholic, some Lutheran, believers in “Federal Vision” (the Church runs the government), New Apostolic Reformation and their 7 Hills/Mountains

VerseD: Proverbs 18:10

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.
Proverbs 18:10, ESV

We do not need to defend God. His Word is enough. Trust in the name of Jesus.

(But also be ready to give an answer to those who question! 1 Peter 3:15)

Nothing New: The Church’s Foundation: Part 1 (-ish)

I am currently the Youth Pastor for The Church Next Door in Prescott Valley, AZ. On Sunday, August 11, 2019, I took over teaching the adult Sunday School class before the regular service. (If you find yourself in North Central Arizona, specifically the Prescott Valley area, come join in from 8:45 to 9:45 AM, and then stay for the singing and sermon at 10!)

The second lesson ended up being rather short, so I decided to combine last week with this past week on here. So, here is the second-ish lesson notes:

Nothing New: The Importance of Church History

Lesson 2(a and b): Christ and the Church’s Foundation

When was the Church founded?

“One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do riot mean the Church as we see her spread but through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes I our boldest tempters uneasy.”
-C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, Letter 2, pp. 5-6 (HarperCollins, 1996)

Founded in Eternity, but also in time:

  • Matthew 16:16-18 – Is this the start?
    • Ekklesia – from ek (think of our “ex” or “out of”) and kaleo (kah-leh-oh – “to call or invite”)
      • i.e. “The Called Out Ones” or “The Invited Ones”
      • Not to be confused with Apostle – Apostolos, “Sent one”
  • Acts 2 – Is this the start?
    • Vv. 1-4 – The Holy Spirit is given to the gather believers for the first time
    • Vv. 14-40 – The first sermon is given
    • Vv. 41-47 – The first post-resurrection converts, meeting together, and group worship with new converts.
  • The Church is apostolic:
    • Matthew 28:18-20
    • We have been called out of the world to be sent back into the world.
      • On Christ’s authority
      • 2 Corinthians 5 (especially v. 20)

What did the Church grow from?

  • Roman occupied Palestine
    • Jews wanted freedom from pagan rituals and deities.They expected the Messiah to militarily drive out the pagans.
  • Divided leadership
    • Pharisees (means “separated ones”) – Believed in the full Hebrew canon (our OT), spiritual beings, the resurrection, and strict adherence to the Law.
    • Sadducees – Believed in the Law of Moses, denied spiritual existence, denied a resurrection, were willing to compromise beliefs with the government to avoid confrontation (and stay in power).
    • Essenes – Believed much the same as the Pharisees, but focused more on relationships and community, setting themselves apart to live communally and to copy the Scriptures, fully expecting the Messiah to come soon.
    • Zealots – Much like Essenes, but instead of copying Scriptures sought to fight the occupying government, even by violent means.

Next Time:

Christ confronts each of these groups, and we still see their mirrors today.

Nothing New: An Introductory Foundation

I am currently the Youth Pastor for The Church Next Door in Prescott Valley, AZ. On Sunday, August 11, 2019, I took over teaching the adult Sunday School class before the regular service. (If you find yourself in North Central Arizona, specifically the Prescott Valley area, come join in from 8:45 to 9:45 AM, and then stay for the singing and sermon at 10!)

Here is the first lesson notes:

Nothing New: The Importance of Church History

Lesson 1: Some Foundational Thoughts

This class starts on what would have been my mom’s 58th birthday. The day after her 53rd birthday she went home to be with the Lord.

Why is this relevant?

My parents did not instill Christian beliefs in us growing up. When I became a Christian, they complained some. My mom in particular challenged me with hard questions. Thankfully, it is what helped lead her to Christ, and it gave me the start toward ministry and apologetics.

What else helped was overcoming my perspective on Church that came from an evolutionary mindset I was not aware I had.

Thus, here is the list of scriptural (and anecdotal) foundations for my life, ministry, and this class:

  1. 1 Samuel 16:7 – My parents raised me to not judge people based on appearances. However, I also fell into that evolutionary view that we learn more and understand better than our predecessors. (If you actually read the Bible and study history, that should change your mind.) Likewise, as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1, God used the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. It does not make sense for God to die on a cross, but He did. Then He used backwater fishermen, farmers, and tax collectors to change the world. We need to remember not to make assumptions about people based on appearances or perceptions.
  2. James 4:7-8 – We must realize that to overcome our biases and sin we must submit ourselves to God and draw near. Only He can make us clean and change our thinking.
  3. John 3:16-17 – We must realize that God first drew near to us, through Jesus. If we do not believe in the atoning work of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, we stand condemned in our sins, but we escape condemnation through faith in Him.
  4. Hebrews (11:1-)12:1 – We must realize that the previous witnesses, those who came before us and revealed Christ to the world, know more about God (collectively) than we. These witnesses were the biblical writers, the prophets and apostles, and those who gave their lives for the truth. We know what we know because God acted in history to reveal Himself and preserve His truth in this world. We do not know better than the Early Church, and certainly not more than the Author and Perfecter of our faith (12:2) and Founder of the Church.
  5. 1 Peter 3:15 – We must make Christ foremost in our hearts and minds. We must be ready to give an answer – apologia = reasoned defense, hence “apologetics” – for our faith, why we believe, and remember to do it with gentleness and respect to reach our fallen, backwards world. It means we call out sin, but love people as we do it, with patience and understanding. We are no better than anyone else. And we know this from Scripture.
  6. Ephesians 2:20 – We run all of Church history and all of our understanding through the lens of Scripture. Our faith is built on the foundation of the prophets (Old Testament/Hebrew scriptures) and Apostles (New Testament) with Christ anchoring everything. This is where we find all truth and our authority to speak to this world.
  7. Matthew 28:18-20 – Jesus has all authority, and He gave that authority to us to tell the world God has come to us, to teach them His commands, and to baptize them into the Trinitarian name of God. Without the risen, living Lord, we have no authority.

Church history reveals to us we still make mistakes and sin against our Lord, but He has used this history and guided His Church to better understand His Word and equip us for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

It is fitting this new class starts on my mom’s birthday, because she helped me hone my understanding of God, the Bible, and Christian life. I am sure she would be honored with such a gift as her son sharing God’s redemptive work throughout history since the time of Christ her Lord and Savior. (And this is first shared online on the 5th Anniversary of her going to Him!)

Next time:

Christ our Foundation: The roots of the Church