Posts Tagged ‘ Apologetics ’

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

Sermon: Defending Jesus? – John 18:1-14

I preached again! I liked it. Like, wept some, got goosebumps some, enjoyed preaching it … a lot.

Please enjoy listening (click here if it does not work just below), and see my rough notes for all scripture references and basic thoughts. I am reading from the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible.

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Defending Jesus? (John 18:1-14)

(Parallel passages: Matthew 26:47-57; Mark 14:43-53; Luke 22:47-54)
Intro:

Read 18:1-2

Jesus spoke other words than the High Priestly Prayer: Luke 22 – “Sell cloak, get sword” “Here are 2”

Regularly with His disciples (Luke 21:37: He rested/slept out here): This time, this is where we read in other Gospels about Jesus’ 3 prayers
“Let this cup [of suffering] pass from me, but Your will be done.”

Read 18:3

We know they were not just soldiers, but guards from the Temple, sent by the leadership.
Probably a mixture of Jewish and Roman soldiers. Probably up to 200 people!
It was a major feast (Passover), so there would be extra soldiers to help keep the peace.

Read 18:4-8a

Why they fell back:

  1. “Ego eimi” – “I am.”
  2. Could also be how unafraid He seemed of them, possibly tripped over themselves/each other.

Read 18:8-11

Remember the swords?

  1. Disciples still expecting a revolution. Is this FINALLY the time?
  2. Will Jesus actually call His heavenly army?
    1. Matthew 26:52-56 (2 Kings 6:8-23)

Go back to v. 9:

  • His prayer last chapter: 17:12
  • Some try to teach this fulfills John 10:29, but Jesus was speaking to the leaders about ANYONE who believes in Him.
  • It makes me think (NO OTHER EVIDENCE!) Malchus became a Christian

Read 18:12-14

  1. Jesus bound: hearkens back to Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 22).
    1. Isaac was not stupid. He knew he was going to be the sacrifice, but he trusted his father who trusted THE Father.
    2. Now, Jesus willingly goes to sacrifice. (Without a ram substitute!)
  2. Why Annas?
    1. High Priest usually serves until death, but Romans only allowed terms
      1. He held sway even not being “in power” anymore
      2. His sons and son-in-law took turns over the years, hence “that year”
    2. Is he legitimate? He was installed by Romans
      1. This helps us see why the disciples were willing to fight the Temple authorities
  3. Caiaphas was deceived, but he essentially prophesied the truth!

What does this all mean for us?

  1. We must know that Jesus is God. (vv. 5-8)
    1. 20:31
  2. We must know He died for us. (v. 14)
  3. We do not defend Christ.
    1. He suffered, and so shall we
      1. Matthew 10, Mark 13, and Luke 12, Jesus says His followers will be led before others to testify
      2. 16:33
    2. His truth defends itself, but we are often His instrument.
      1. Psalm 28:7-9
      2. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15
    3. Sword of Truth (Ephesians 6:17)
      1. Read Ephesians 6:10-19

Therefore: Matthew 28:18-20

The Church: What isn’t it?

Is the Church full of hypocrites or only for perfect people?

First, we should deal with something the Church does that kind of refutes what many are fighting for in our culture.

The Social Justice Movement is horribly flawed in one major way: they are demanding the government take care of everyone on the most basic levels. But the government is not meant to do this.

Romans 13:1-7 – The government is for giving out justice … to wrongdoers. It is not the government’s job to meet all of the needs of the people.

The Church is meant to help people. We are the ones who should be helping the widows, orphans, and poor. It is supposed to come from a grateful, loving, and generous heart, not compulsion, which is what taxing people to take care of others is.

The Church is not the government. It is the Body of Christ, separate from the government (but can and should influence the government), serving the lost and hurting.

Which leads to the main point:

Is the Church full of hypocrites or perfect people?

Matthew 9:9-13 and Mark 2:13-17 tell the way Jesus called Matthew/Levi to follow Him. “Why does He eat with sinners and tax collectors?” “It is not the healthy who need a physician, but the sick. . . . learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

What this tells us is that Jesus expects to find people in His Church who are able to admit they are not perfect, that they need help. (No one is perfect. All people need God’s help!)

Firstly, this means we have to deal with hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is telling people to do something and not applying that to yourself. Does this mean we find hypocrites in the Church? Absolutely! That is one of many reasons we need God’s grace and supernatural help to truly repent (change our thinking and behavior)! But this also leads to the second part of imperfect people being in our churches.

This means that you should not wait to come to church until you have “everything together and figured out.” The Church is supposed to help guide you through your troubles, problems, and imperfections. Only God can truly help you.

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

Ephesians 4:1-7, ESV

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Colossians 3:12-14, ESV

So … what isn’t the Church?

It is not for perfect, flawless people.

It is a spiritual hospital – a place for hurt, broken, messed up people who can admit that they need help, to trust God to help them … to trust other hurt, broken, messed up (even hypocritical) people. Flaws and all.

And we should help each other turn to God and to get through this life.

What are your thoughts? Comment. E-mail us. (Together@asimplemanofgod.com)

Frosty Video Responses

A few weeks ago I uploaded the video and blog post about God proving His existence. Over on the YouTubes, I got my first internet troll!

Okay. Maybe he does not think he is a troll but actually doing some good atheist works by confronting us Christians.

Regardless, after a short dialogue, he made such a long response that I decided to respond here. I will put the entire discourse here so that perhaps we all could learn something and engage in meaningful dialogue.

This will be long …

frosted1030:
We don’t define evidence as you do. Or, in layman terms, your weak assertions don’t meet the standard quality of evidence required.


Response:

Firstly, thanks for commenting!

Secondly, I guess it really does matter how “evidence” is defined. I do wonder how you would define evidence. I agree that complexity does not necessarily lead to the conclusion of “creator”. An explosion certainly leads to complexity! I can concede order does not necessarily conclude intelligence. I have seen a river lay a neat pile of sticks and reeds all facing the same way and looking like a pile someone built.

But perhaps we are not considering historical evidence as real evidence? If so, that is a major fallacy. Without historical evidence, even the scientific method falls apart, because we have to rely on what we and others have recorded as evidence. Likewise, the field of archaeology is pointless, because we could never truly know what happened in the past. Why trust what others have written? Yet we do this all the time. We accept historical sources as evidence. Likewise, we have documents from people who claim to have interacted with someone who claimed He was the Creator God and said He would prove it by being killed and rise again. That in and of itself is not enough (look at all of the “faith healers” today who are really tricksters … we certainly agree on that, I am sure), but the Gospels meet the expectations of historical documentation and then far exceed them in many cases (largely in volume of manuscripts and consistency in content among the manuscripts. There is a video on the channel that briefly covers this.)

Maybe I misunderstood your assertion (for which I apologize if true), but some of your videos as well as your comment on this particular video lead me to that conclusion (and also assuming you watched the entire video.) Otherwise, is there evidence that could convince you? (Luke 16:29-31 serves as a reminder to us, though, that, no, no evidence will. But I and others are willing to have the dialogue!) Again, thanks for “stopping by!” I like a good discussion!

And now for the big response-o-rama:

frosty1030:
@a simple man of God “I guess it really does matter how “evidence” is defined. I do wonder how you would define evidence.” We define evidence, in this context, to be fact that supports or does not support a predictive model based on a specific definition. In this regard, the theist’s perpetual last ditch resort fallacy is removed (goalpost moving). This is why you will never see a specific definition for a deity with any quality. “

I guess, then, we have to discount the numerous prophecies made throughout the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) that said a specific person was coming and would do certain things. Further, Jesus made several predictions that He would be arrested, beaten, crucified, and rise again. This certainly qualifies as predictive and setting a specific definition. The facts that support this would be Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. That looks like what you asked for. No goalposts being moved, and throughout the Bible God gives us definitions of deity [there is only one (Exodus 20:2-3, Isaiah 37:16, 1 Timothy 1:17), creates and controls everything (Genesis 1, Colossians 1:16-17), knows everything (Isaiah 40:26, Jeremiah 17:10, Hebrews 4:12-13), source of morality (10 Commandments)]. But, having already read your entire response, I know this will not be good enough for you. I will get back to it …

An explosion certainly leads to complexity!” Careful with that strawman. We shall not be discussing cosmology without context.

Carefeul there! You are putting words in my mouth and creating the strawman. My only point is that any explosion causes anything that is ordered to become very complex by being spread out and made into a mess.

But perhaps we are not considering historical evidence as real evidence?” We do not consider fables (no matter how apparently accurate in small bits) as they fail to meet the base qualifications. This is an old apologist argument, pretending that you don’t understand that one inconsistency, fallacy, or inaccuracy is enough to demonstrate a fiction, not the other way around. If you doubt this methodology, do ask how many scientists have been put on the project of finding Neverland as there are fewer inconsistencies and more facts in Peter Pan then there are in your fables.

What is your evidence that the biblical stories are fables? The Bible has vast archaealogical evidence supporting much of the history it shares. In the past 20 years alone we have found evidence of David and Solomon and several of the kings who followed after them. Many people groups and settlements mentioned in the Bible were found specifically by following the Bible’s descriptions. Jesus is mentioned by several people outside of the Bible and Christianity.

As for the inconsistencies and facts, to which do you refer? I keep seeing and hearing the same tired examples that have been refuted time and again through the centuries. If you refuse to interact with those answers, that does not prove your point nor contradict our arguments. So, please offer examples rather resorting to the very things you accuse me of doing.

Likewise, the field of archaeology is pointless, because we could never truly know what happened in the past. Why trust what others have written?” A track record of consistency, and changing conclusions when the facts reveal better more verbose detail pointing to a different conclusion. Something theism can not do due to presuppositional fallacy.

Firstly, and again, where has the Christian message (as a whole, not merely some of us who have made mistakes or have gone off the rails in their attempts to defend the faith, such as people like Westboro Baptist Church or those who resort to overly-simplistic arguments) been inconsistent? I concede there have been people who have abused the name, and sometimes we make mistakes. We are sinful people. It is why we show grace to others, including atheists. (And I am sorry people attempt to lump all atheists together so that those like Lenin, who killed millions by his decrees, laws, and actions, are made the defacto representation of atheism.)

Secondly, I feel like you misunderstand presuppositionalism. Yes, some misrepresent it. However, how is saying “People think wrongly about foundational things, so it is helpful to reveal those wrong thoughts and fill in possible gaps” a fallacy? What is the point of education if not to correct incomplete and wrong knowledge?

Likewise, we have documents from people who claim to have interacted with someone who claimed He was the Creator God and said He would prove it by being killed and rise again.” First off, you sound like the guy standing there holding her purse full of bricks outside the women’s bathroom at a restaurant, six days later. The only difference is that you have been holding that purse for over two-thousand years. Face it, she ditched you.

The simple answer here is Jesus’ words from Luke 16:31: “If they do not hear Moses and Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.”

I am pretty sure that we all agree with Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:17: “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile …” He also said in that book that our faith and the gospel are foolishness to this world, which is why we need our minds corrected (regenerated) to be able to believe. We wait, but we were not given a purse with bricks but a command (Matthew 28:18-20) to share the news of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and hope for the future glory.

Secondly, we have much earlier stories that say the same thing, yet you discount them, even though they were written in a time of illiteracy, when most stories were passed down “word of mouth.” Ever play telephone? Let’s look at one: Horus was born to Isis-Meri (became Mary), Foster father: Seb (called Jo-Seph) from royal ancestry, Birth date Dec 21/25, Birth announcement by angels, witness to birth 3 solar deities (wisemen), Death threat during infancy, no info between ages 12-30, raised the dead, traveled with 12 disciples, baptized at 30, baptizer beheaded, betrayed, crucified, dead for 3 days, resurrected . Seem familiar? That story was written over three-thousand years before the events in your fables were said to take place. What about Krishna, Dionysus, Mithra? All predating your fables, all very very similar (though nit-pickers will find all the differences) and all passed down the same way. Did you really think your fables were unique?

I am only slightly surprised you pulled out this tired trope. (I am surprised people as intelligent as Bill Maher still believe this stuff.) For my reply, I refer to Lutheran Satire’s fun response:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0-EgjUhRqA

In short, this argument is incredibly easily refuted, and there is absolutely no evidence to back up the claim that the Christ-myth predates the Gospel.

is there evidence that could convince you?” Sure. Bring your deity to a press conference, let it stand trial for crimes against humanity, allow it to answer any and all questions put to it including detailed questions by scholars, and scientists. If you can’t or won’t, ask yourself why you bother insisting upon fantasy through fallacy.

My first question in response to this is, “but would even submit to God were He to come (again) and answer your questions?” (And I refer you back to Luke 16, the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man that ends with the quote in verse 31 seen above.) We also need to know what precisely is meant by crimes against humanity, especially seeing as the Christian argument is that all of humanity has commited crimes against a holy God and each other. Does God not have the right to do with His creation as He sees fit? If He is guilty of anything, it is relenting in completely wiping us out at the first sin. Instead, He lets us deal with the results of our own sinful behavior, but He offered a way out through Jesus if we are willing to turn and believe. He will return one day to remove those who have hated Him and renew all of Creation. Perhaps I will make a video responding to the penalty of sin to answer your inevitable questions about Hell and judgment …

Whew! That got wordy!

What are your thoughts? How would you respond to either of us? Would you have changed any of our arguments?