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Articles
Thursday, July 18 2019

“Your belief is a blind faith.” Some speak of the Christian faith as standing on nothing when a person believes despite any evidence. However, this is the opposite of the Christian faith.

            The apostle Paul formed his arguments from a reasonable view of God. In Acts 17, Paul observed that those in Athens did not know their “unknown God” of whom they had built an altar. Paul spoke to them of the Creator who “made the world and everything in it” (Acts 17:24).

            Paul did not present his case for God by citing biblical texts to the Athenians who would not have accepted such texts as an authority. However, Paul taught them a reasonable view of God that came from the Scriptures. Paul began his points saying, “The God who made […],” “He made […],” and “He is not actually far from each one of us […],” and “The times of ignorance God overlooked […].” The apostle described a reasonable view of God and led his audience to the point of Jesus’s resurrection (Acts 17:31).

            Paul’s arguments were proclamations and more reasonable than a simple syllogism. Paul first proposed God and described a reasonable view of God. Logicians often formulate an argument using a syllogism similar to a math equation of 2+1=3. The number 2 represents the major premise often consisting of a two-fold condition such as “If the universe began, the universe must have a greater cause.” Furthermore, the minor premise as the number 1 may note a single fact such as "The universe began." Lastly, number 3 is the sum of the premises to reach a reasonable conclusion, “The universe must have a greater cause.” However, the logician must add other details to the argument to reveal that the greater cause is most reasonably the supernatural Creator. Unlike a formal syllogism, Paul made use of enthymemes as arguments which are arguments with unstated premises. Paul's arguments do not begin from an agnostic view but a reasonable view of God.

            Christians often speak about God today like Paul, “God is… because / so…” We usually first describe a quality of God and conclude something about reality. For instance, one might declare, “God is the all-powerful Creator who created the universe, because we know the universe cannot come from nothing.” The Christian may also say something like "God made the universe in the beginning because the universe is balanced just right for intelligent life that could not come to exist by chance.”

            Faith does not mean that Christians have no reason for their faith in God. Believers have every reason to believe in God who sent His Son to give eternal life to the faithful. The Christian who shares their faith and the gospel can naturally present the truth and may make a case like the apostle Paul. The faithful can learn a lot more from observing how Jesus taught and the apostles presented the truth about God and Christ. From my perspective, Christians would best proclaim a reasonable view of God to an unbeliever including God's coming judgment assured by resurrecting Jesus from the dead. Eventually, one can lead them to the witnesses of Jesus’s life, death, burial, and resurrection (1 Cor 15:1–11). No matter how others may mock, the Christian faith stands on greater evidence than any secular or religious worldview.

Posted by: Scott J Shifferd AT 09:30 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, July 15 2019

“You can’t think the Bible is true with its unscientific story for the creation of the universe.” Many people think the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old as scientific fact attested by most scientists. Furthermore, many academics including believers assert that the first book of the Bible speaks of how God created the universe in figurative details. Old-earth creationists perceive that the Bible attests to some facts including that God created the universe, a habitable earth, life, and man and woman in His image. However, they claim little beyond these points in the Genesis account.

            Both young-earth and old-earth views of creation have difficulty understanding the other position. Both old-earth and young-earth creationists recognize science as observations of God's revelation by His creation. The apostle Paul revealed, “For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Rom 1:20). Paul appears to have spoken from a young-earth perspective that humanity has been able to perceive God’s nature and power from the Creation.

            One of the problems that old-earth creationists must address is Jesus’s affirmation: “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’” (Mark 10:6; cf. Matt 19:4). The reader can see that Jesus referenced Genesis as factual and that God created humanity from the beginning of creation. Other problems for old-earth creationists include Moses’s interpretation of his creation account in Genesis: “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day” (Exod 20:11; cf. 31:17). Furthermore, old-earth creationists need to explain the 9 billion year gap between the creation of heaven and earth in Genesis 1:1. The Bible does not say God created the heavens and 9 billion years later the earth. Old-earth creationists see these passages as figurative rather than literal including God’s creation of “the heavens and the earth” as an idiom for God creating the universe and that God would eventually form the earth.

            The problems that young-earth creationists must account are the age of rocks on the Earth, the distance of starlight, and geologic layers. However, most young creationists see these as supporting the Genesis account of creation. From a literal interpretation, Genesis 1 reveals that God created a mature and habitable Earth, used rapid progress sometimes to set things like starlight in order, and set the laws for each stage of creation in its completion. For instance, Genesis reports that God created a habitable earth implying the formation of mature rocks, the growth of vegetation to maturity in a day, caused starlight to appear in a day, and created man and woman fully developed in a day. From the creation days forward, God’s creation followed its God-given natural order and laws. Today, the details in Genesis do account for a young universe deflecting any assumption of long ages from radiometric dating of rocks and the arrival of distant starlight. With modern advances in science, Genesis still accounts for the apparent nature and state of the Earth.

            The scientific revolution began via creationists, and today's biblical creationist has nothing to fear. The biblical account of Creation between 6300 and 7500 years ago stands. No need exists to reinterpret the biblical text to harmonize God's creation with secular assumptions about the universe. Because God is the best explanation for the universe, scientists better advance the more they recognize God’s nature in design and His power to sustain the universe and life by natural laws that He set and upholds by His Word (Heb 1:3; 11:3). Thank God for the Bible! No biblical creationist needs to accept secular assumptions for the origin and formation of the universe.

Posted by: Scott J Shifferd Jr. AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Friday, July 12 2019

“Why should I adore God?” “Why is God worthy of worship?” “Why should I worship someone who demands that I worship Him?” Each of these questions makes presuppositions about God. Many people speak of God as those He is another faulty person. What they do not recognize is that God by definition is the maximally eternal Being and Creator of the universe. As far as the existence of morality, God is the lawgiver because He is the definer of right and wrong. He is the standard by His own unique nature — His holiness. Throughout these articles on holiness, God’s holiness challenges all to know who He is.

            The more that we know God then the more we come to adore, honor, and worship God. God is holy, holy, holy according to the prophet Isaiah (Isa 6:3). Isaiah observed, “But the Lord of hosts is exalted in justice, and the Holy God shows himself holy in righteousness” (Isa 5:16). Isaiah described God as the One who is high and lifted inhabiting eternity as His name is holy (Isa 57:15).

            The reaction to God’s glory, majesty, and holiness is worship. Christians admire God for how abundantly good and amazingly powerful that He is. In the Book of Revelation, God’s martyrs worshiped God declaring, “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed” (Rev 15:4). The fear of God is the beginning of knowledge (Prov 1:7).

            The Bible reveals God’s nature as uniquely set apart from all creation. God is Spirit (John 4:24). In the beginning, God’s Spirit hovered over the face of the waters of the earth in the beginning of the Creation (Gen 1:2). David taught that nothing could escape God’s Spirit (Ps 139:7).

            No one should think that they can fully understand God or think that they can physically observe God who is the Creator of the universe. For this reason, believers greatly admire God. The faithful are amazed at the attributes of God in creation. God's greatness and holiness humble and yet comforts believers. God is able to comfort. He is the God of all comfort (2 Cor 1:3). God declared, "I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite" (Isa 57:15).

            God desires to help humanity who have separated from Him by sin (Isa 59:1–3). As God shows Himself holy in righteousness, God’s word is perfect (Ps 19:7; cf. Isa 5:16). The apostle Paul observed, “The law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good” (Rom 7:12). Sin came alive by the law, deceived, and produced death (Rom 7:9–11; cf. 3:19–20). God’s law is holy and reveals sin (Rom 7:13–14). However, God demonstrated His own righteousness in Jesus Christ to justify believers by His gift of grace (Rom 3:19–26).

            From the beginning, humanity needed a Savior and Rescuer from sin (Rom 5). God’s holiness demonstrates His righteousness, justice, mercy, and grace (cf. Isa 5:16). Worship God for He is holy. “For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed” (Rev 15:4).

Posted by: Scott J Shifferd AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, July 11 2019

Have you ever been to the weight room in the gym? You don’t know what to do the first time that you go. “What do I lift?” "How do I lift it?” “How much should I lift?” You need a trainer or instructor to use the weights and other equipment properly. You may need a physician or physical therapist’s guidance for you to produce results and avoid injuries. Training needs teaching and guidance. The Bible teaches that Christians need training in self-control to live holy lives.

            Do you pray for the wisdom to live a holy life? The apostle Paul prayed to God for the Christians in Thessalonica to increase in love for one another and to establish their hearts blameless in holiness (1 Thess 3:11–13). Paul revealed that God’s will is that Christians be holy and abstain from sexual immorality — sex outside of marriage (1 Thess 4:3, 7).

            Paul pleaded with Christians to cleanse themselves from every defilement of the body and spirit bringing holiness to completion (2 Cor 7:1). Holiness includes the body. Some people say that the body does not matter and that they can do anything that they want with their bodies. They say that they will not need their bodies after they die and their only going to become ashes. However, the subtle recognition that their body is their body and identifying as “me” as the body admits that the body is meant for more.

            The gospel promises bodily resurrection from the dead (John 6:40; 1 Cor 15:53). The apostle Paul made this point when he declared, "And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!" (1 Cor 6:14–15 ESV). The Greek pornei for “prostitute” may refer to any woman having sex outside of marriage. Paul explained that sex outside of marriage is contrary to God’s institution of marriage when “the two will become one flesh” (1 Cor 6:16). Those joined to the Lord should not be joined to an unholy person in sex. Paul noted that this sin is against the body (1 Cor 6:18). God made the body for the Lord not for sexual immorality (1 Cor 6:13).

            By the gospel, sin no longer enslaves believers (Rom 6:7). Jesus died to sin and His followers must do the same (Rom 6:8–11). For this reason, Paul declared, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions" (Rom 6:12). How does someone do this? The Christian must present oneself as a servant to God everywhere and all the time. The servant of God must present the members of one's body to service for righteousness unto holiness (Rom 6:19).

            For this reason, the apostle Paul noted that for one to have self-control then that person must exercise self-control. Holiness necessitates training for the body. Paul observed that running and boxing require training and discipline (1 Cor 9:24–26). Likewise, he wrote, “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Cor 9:27).

            The faithful are set free from sin to be servants of God. The fruit of that freedom is the process of becoming holy and its completion is eternal life (Rom 6:22). Therefore, the baptized believer must commit oneself as a bondservant of Jesus Christ to become holy and receive eternal life (Rom 6:22–23). A person must cleanse oneself to be of honorable use to God (2 Tim 2:20–21).

            Thank God for He is gracious and merciful showing every believer the way to live a holy and pure life.

Posted by: Scott J Shifferd AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, July 02 2019

The birth of a child is a huge life change. When my daughter Megan was born and the hospital released us, I thought, “What are we supposed to do with her now?” Megan was born wide-eyed into the world looking at everything. She has always been curious and observant.

            The biblical teaching of being born again is exciting. The meaning is a new life. Believers are born again by baptism through the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Pet 1:3; 3:21; cf. John 3:5; Titus 3:5). The Bible teaches that Christians are children of God by faith as many as have been baptized into Christ (Gal 3:26–27).

            Like some babies, many of us come crying for food into the new life like my son Wyatt. Others may come forth relaxed and grunt when they need something like my son Emmett or they may whimper like my daughter Hailey did. Babes in Christ have needs. They cannot survive on their own. Peter taught, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation” (1 Pet 2:2).

            How does the new Christian need spiritual milk? What is "the pure spiritual milk"? Peter revealed that the believer purifies the soul by obedience to the truth and are born again of imperishable seed — the word of God (1 Pet 1:22–23). The Word of God is the pure milk that new Christians need to purify themselves.

            Christians are born again to be holy. Christians are sons and daughters born of the holy God. John revealed that anyone who hopes in Jesus Christ would purify oneself as God is pure (1 John 3:3). Those who continue to sin practice lawlessness so they are not pure (1 John 3:4). God came to take away sin and no sin is in God (1 John 3:5). Those who continue in sin have not seen or known God (1 John 3:6). They are not pure for holiness is godliness.

            The Word of God is essential to living a holy life (John 17:17). However, many Christians today revert to an infantile state that Paul described as carnal (1 Cor 3:1–2). As previously noted, Peter revealed that newborns need pure milk (1 Pet 2:2). The writer of Hebrews noted, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child" (Heb 5:12–13). Every Christian needs the support of others to continue to study the Word of God unto maturity. Christians should follow the evangelists, shepherds, and teachers who have the responsibility of equipping them for ministry (Eph 4:11–16).

            Thank God for He has provided Christians a pure and holy way to live. Thank God for the church family that can support you in pursuing holy living by God’s Word.

Posted by: Scott J Shifferd AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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