Monday, May 14, 2018

How do I Know Christianity is the Right Way?

By David Bonebright

How do I know Christianity is the right way? I remember my reaction when I first heard that question. I don't remember specifically how old I was, probably in high school. I was dumfounded! This was not a question I had ever considered. I grew up in a Christian home where my parents and church taught me out of the Bible. I accepted by faith that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and any other belief system that did not lead through Jesus Christ to get to God was wrong. Even though I knew that not everybody believed the same as I did, I was not adequately prepared to answer the question or debate my beliefs. My answer, I stammered, "It just is." The follow-up question led to my second answer, "I just know."

Going on three decades later, my answer is still pretty much the same. It just is, and I just know! I can answer it now without the shakiness and what appeared to be lack of confidence in my voice. Don't let my lack of apologetics skills in my youth fool you. My faith was strong. Any lack of confidence I had in those days was in my own ability to prepare an argument as that fateful question revealed. The simplicity of my answer does not do much to explain our position as Christians to an unbelieving world, so I have prepared a much longer answer. My long answer leads me right back to my simple answer, which I can say boldly and confidently.  

We know that God is real. If you're asking this question, it is most likely that you already have a belief in some sort of deity. An atheist is not as likely to ask a question about which path is the right one to take, considering that an atheist is least likely to involve a belief in God on his journey. If an atheist does ask this question, it is most likely going to be in attempt to trip up the believer and instill doubt. Answer the question anyway, by explaining the first part, and most likely the most important part of our belief. God is real. 

How do we know God is real? We are created in God's image with an inborn knowledge of His existence. "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10, KJV)." The apostle Paul also explains in Romans 1 that God has given evidence of His existence through His creation and His intrinsic design. That is why isolated societies who have never heard of Christianity find something to worship. That is also why God used the first two of the Ten Commandments to warn us against worshipping anything that is not God Himself. He also has warned us many times throughout the entire Bible, both testaments, against worshipping idols, false gods, creatures, and other created things. A lack of belief, such as atheism, is a learned trait. It is not a natural inborn belief. A hardened belief that there is no God is possibly learned through studies, philosophical examples, and rebellious searching. The Bible has referred to those who say in their hearts, "there is no God," as fools (Psalm 14:1) and that those who profess wisdom outside of God's true wisdom have become truly foolish (Romans 1:22).  

God's creation clearly identifies His existence. The majesty and beauty of His handiwork gives obvious evidence that the world, universe, and all things, including living beings, were created, and there is obvious intelligent design. Like a painter leaves an autograph on a masterpiece, God has definitely inscribed His name on His masterpiece. Based on the world around us, when it comes time to meet God face to face, those who spent their lifetime in disbelief will be left without excuse (Romans 1:20).

We know that Jesus is God's Son and is God in the flesh. This information is as important to Christianity as belief in God. The eternal existence, birth, life, death, resurrection, and current presence of Jesus Christ separates Christianity from all other religions. How can I say that so boldly? Other religions have human figures who walked the earth and did things that are vitally important to their religious faith. How do I know that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, as John reported in his gospel (John 14:6)?

We can start by looking at His existence, which was well-verified by secular history as well as Scriptures. But so what? So was Mohammed. (Interestingly, Jesus was also an important character mentioned in the Q'uran, but that's not where I'm going with this.) Jesus was the only person in history for whom the calendar was reset. His life was well-established, and His death was well-documented.  He obviously existed, but how does that make him God? Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. He also claimed to be God. "Before Abraham was, I am" (John 8:58) and "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30) are just two of many quotes where Jesus made His claims abundantly clear. That should put to rest unbelievers' notion that Jesus never claimed to be God. Jesus was not "just a good man." He was who He claimed to be. "Good men" do not claim to be something they are not. 

What does that prove? Throughout history people have claimed to be God or a form of deity. Jesus was the only man who lived a perfect, sinless life on earth. Jesus kept every "jot and tittle" of the ancient Mosaic law, a feat which was impossible for everybody else. During His trial, Pontius Pilate even declared His innocence before famously washing his hands, and one of the thieves on the cross recognized that Jesus was hanging next to him without any guilt. This was a feat that Jesus needed to accomplish for our salvation. Jesus needed to be the perfect sacrifice for us in order to save us from our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Without the shedding of Jesus' perfect blood there is no remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22).
  
Jesus fulfilled every prophecy written in the Old Testament about Him:  His birth, His life, His death, etc. These prophecies were written at minimum 400 years before Jesus was born of a virgin in Bethlehem. I would encourage anybody to read through the entire Old Testament and underline everything prophetic about Jesus' life. Just about every aspect of Jesus' life is foretold. There are well over 100, maybe closer to 150 prophecies about Jesus, and He fulfilled them all. The mathematical probability of that statement is impossible! Sure, He knew the Scripture, and He could have willfully fulfilled some of them. But a man cannot control where he is born, who his parents are, whether or not his bones will be broken, or specifics on how he will die (I'm not going to argue about suicide). There is no way that Jesus, as just a man, could fulfill them all. And yet, He did!

The Bible identifies Jesus Christ as God. I will discuss the legitimacy of the Bible later. 

Jesus' sacrificial death was well-documented. I originally was not going to elaborate on this point, because His death is well established through secular history as well as Scriptures. It is understood that Jesus was executed and died, but there are some who question where and when He died. It is clear by biblical account that He died while hanging on the cross between two thieves. The Roman soldiers broke the legs of the thieves so they would asphyxiate by hanging their entire body weight on their lungs and die more quickly. But when they got to Jesus, they saw that He was already dead, so they did not break His legs. These soldiers performed many executions and had seen many people die, so they knew what a dead body looks like. But just to be sure, one of them pierced His side with a spear. Blood and water gushed out separately. Now, I'm not a doctor, but I have bled many times. I've also seen a number of dead bodies and know what lividity is. Your blood and water only separate after you are dead. 

Even if Jesus had hung there in some sort of comatose state with the appearance of death that fooled some of the most expert executioners, only to awaken three days later in a tomb, how would He have been able to gain enough strength in spite of His excessive blood loss to push a very large stone away from the threshold of the tomb? And how was He able to stagger past a bunch of armed guards whose very lives depended on securing the tomb? How far would He have been able walk down the road before He collapsed from complete exhaustion and died? There is clear and adequate medical and historical evidence that Jesus in fact died on the cross and lay in the tomb dead.  
Jesus' resurrection is well-verified. I have heard speculation that Jesus' body was tossed in a large pit where the bodies of the poor, homeless or unclaimed were tossed, which would explain the empty tomb. This theory does not take into account Joseph of Arimathea desiring the body to be placed in his family's tomb or the seal placed on the tomb. Also, the armed guards outside the tomb are well-reported. Their function was to keep Jesus' disciples from excavating the body and making outlandish claims of resurrection, but all of Jesus' disciples (with the exception of Judas Iscariot) went into hiding. Honest secular historical accounts of Jesus' burial support Scriptural history. 

After Jesus' resurrection, He spent forty days on earth with His disciples. He was not a ghost, as I've heard some claim. He was also not a hallucination, considering how many people would have had the exact hallucination. He ate meals with His disciples, the first being a fish with Peter on the shore. Ghosts don't eat. Hallucinations can be annoying inside of Disneyland's Haunted Mansion, but they don't do much else. Jesus lived in society and was recognized by people as Jesus of Nazareth, appearing before more than 500 people at one time! He can be verified through the witnesses of people who spent time with Him after His crucifixion.
  
After the forty days, Jesus ascended into heaven. This act was witnessed by about 200 people.  The ascension of Jesus Christ is more verified than Paul Revere's ride or Benjamin Franklin using a kite to discover electricity. Both those acts are accepted and believed based on assumption, and I also believe they happened. But where's the witness verification? There are many historical occurrences that are accepted with less verification than the ascension of Jesus Christ.
  
We know the Bible is God's Word. We know the Bible is the inspired Word of God, as Paul stated in a letter to Timothy (2 Timothy  3:16). The word inspired means "God-breathed," and we know the Holy Spirit is the true Author of the Bible. But come on, now! I could write a book and say that it is truth and it is inspired. Many have. What makes the Bible different from their books? 

The Bible was written by about 40 different men over the span of 1500 years.  The writers were not the authors, but scribes, writing what the Holy Spirit told them to. All of these men had extremely various walks of life, from farmers, shepherds, fishermen to doctors, lawyers, high counselors, priests and kings.  They also lived in extremely different times and environments. Yet their message remained consistent. I could not get 40 similar men in a room today and get them to write a story unbeknownst to each other and have it match at all! The Bible's perfection is too great to be coincidental. 

The Bible is without error or contradiction. Detractors have attempted to find contradictions in the inspired Word of God for centuries. Some have been deceptive in finding what they believe they could pass of as a true contradiction, only to have it fall apart with just a little research within the Scriptures themselves. The Bible is a very complex book, and it is possible you can find what you believe to be a contradiction. Often, just keep reading, and what you thought was a contradiction will be cleared up for you. The Bible does not contradict itself, but it complements itself, supplements itself, and verifies itself.  
The Bible is meant to be read in its entirety, with everything in context. As I've said earlier, the Bible is a very complex book, and if you spot-read or pull things out of context, you will not get the adequate intended message of God to us. Spot-reading and pulling things out of context is how many skeptics have come up with what they believe, or want others to believe, are contradictions. That is why it is so important for Christians to not only know the Bible, but to know how to defend the faith with apologetics. I have found a webpage, Apologetics Press, as a good resource to help Christians defend the Bible. But that is not meant to substitute for personal Bible study. As Christians, we should know biblical doctrine.  

The Bible has been verified through external verification. Archaeological findings match the biblical account of history. To this day, now even more than ever, archaeologists are finding more and more ancient artifacts that verify events and times recorded in the Bible. They have also found numerous manuscripts of ancient Scripture that match today's versions of the Bible. The Bible was originally written in at least two different now dead languages. Scribes were notoriously meticulous in copying the Scriptures, being very careful to preserve the Word. Modern translations can be found all over the world in many different languages, all derived from the original manuscripts. There are many more manuscripts found of the Bible than any other work of literature in history.  

Today we have a large number of versions, which has led some to question the legitimacy and accuracy of the Bible. Why do we need so many versions? How can we trust one over the other, and how do we know they all say the same thing? Throughout my life, I have studied the Bible out of three different versions. (I count the King James and the New King James as the same, even though there's a slight difference. One is newer.) In today's technical world it is even easier to study out of multiple versions of the Bible at the same time! All the versions say the same thing. The fact that so many versions have branched out and yet tell the same exact story does not discredit the Bible. If anything, it strengthens it, solidifies it, emboldens it!

The Bible has survived through fierce opposition. It is easily the most contested book in history. Writing this, I was reminded that about two decades ago a small group opposed the book The Catcher in the Rye. Mel Gibson's movie Conspiracy Theory probably didn't help matters. I thought, if we wanted to eradicate that book off the face of the earth, we could. It will never come to that. The Catcher in the Rye is a silly book (I admit I've never read it), J.D. Salinger did not die for our sins, and God did not promise his mother that her seed would crush the serpent's head. (I'm aware that was Eve, but for the purposes of my illustration, you get the point.)  But since the Bible is not a silly book, and Jesus Christ did in fact die for our sins, and the Bible perfectly gives us His message, the same forces that could easily snuff out Salinger's masterpiece have attempted to rid the world of the Bible and have failed. 

The Bible has survived multiple attempts at eradication. In ancient Rome, the Dark Ages, or in totalitarian governmental takeovers throughout history and even some places today, the Bible was and is outlawed.  Printing presses suspected of biblical use were destroyed, book stores burned, livelihoods ruined, and anybody who possessed a copy of the Bible was executed. Sometimes their executions were quite gruesome and horrific. Yet people of faith still managed to preserve the Word of God, often risking their own lives to do so. Once, atheist philosopher Voltaire smugly stated the Bible would be completely wiped from the earth by the turn of the century (1900, I believe). Today, his house is owned by a company that prints and stores Bibles. Our God has a sense of humor!

Even today, in the most free country on the planet, a country that was founded on religious freedom, the largest state in that country is attempting to restrict the sale of Bibles. Here in California, we have been ignoring God for too long.  Christians have been silent on too many issues, effectively allowing the salt to lose its savor. So now the Bible is once again under fire in a country where this is supposed to be unheard of. As shocking as that seems, and as concerned as I am, I trust in God. I am also hopeful, because I know God's will is going to be done. Throughout history, the Bible has not just survived where it is most opposed, but it has thrived! If nothing else, this should wake some of us up.

Quite a few religions believe in God, have a belief in a man called Jesus, and identify the Bible as a book of Scriptures. So what sets Christianity apart? How can I know it is the right one? I think some clarification is needed. The term Christianity is often used as a broad term, and certain religions usually of the West fall under the umbrella of "Christianity." However, true Christianity is following Jesus, the Christ that we find in the pages of the Bible. The first people called Christians were Jesus' disciples after they had founded a church in Antioch (Acts 11). You may find after reading this that some of the religions referred to as "Christian" are only referred to as such in name.

If you take all the religions of the world they can be divided into two categories. The first kind I'll discuss is works-based religion. A large majority of the world's religions fall under works-based belief. It is a natural tendency to believe that works are required to gain salvation, favor, or reward from a deistic being in a form of afterlife or higher spiritual plane. Every other system in life is works-based. Your grades in school are works-based, in spite of how ridiculous the curve might be. Your promotions are based on your works. Whether you start over another competitor on your sports team is works-based. It just seems natural that you would be required to do certain tasks to earn afterlife benefits.  
Works-based religions assume that man is generally good. Man is good enough to save himself from his own sins and he has the ability to do so. No real faith in God is required - just faith in your beliefs that your behavior is good enough. The problem is there is no way for sure you can know you are good enough based on your works. Various clergy in works-based religions have been heard saying, "I hope I'm good enough," or "I hope to be in heaven someday."  If anybody should know, it should be the clergy!

The second type of religions are faith-based. Very few "religions" fall under faith-based religion. All that do are under the umbrella of Christianity. (Like I said earlier, not all "Christian" religions are faith-based.) Faith-based religions require nothing of man to earn salvation other than belief (Titus 3:5). Salvation is obtained by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), and it is not earned by works. If you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord, you will be saved. Both a confession and belief in your heart are necessary for salvation (Romans 10:9-10). "With your heart you believe unto righteousness, and with your mouth confession is made unto salvation!" Those who call upon the Lord will be saved! (Romans 10:13). 

Faith-based religions teach that man is not good (Romans 3:10). In fact, man is bad (Jeremiah 17:9) and we are sinners! (Rom 3:23). (Instead, read all of chapter 3…or the whole book of Romans.) We fall severely short of God's glory and are unable to save ourselves. Romans 6:23 says "for the wages of our sin is death!" Fortunately that verse continues. We do not earn salvation. "The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." And I've already discussed what Jesus has done so we can obtain our gift! There is no amount of penance you can do for salvation. Works has its place in Christianity, as stated in James. But it is not necessary for salvation. 

Based on the totality of all the factors I've already discussed, I must conclude that true Christianity is the only way. The existence of God has been well established long before I wrote this paper. It is possible you could read this paper and others like it and still not believe in God. Not all will believe, and there might be nothing I can do to convince you otherwise. I wrote this paper to explain how I know God exists, and the path He has chosen for us is the right one.
  
The existence and current disposition of Jesus Christ has also been well established. I discussed the historical existence of Christ and the verifications of His actions, but I did not really go into detail about the precious gift that He provided for mankind and the sacrifice He made to give us that gift. Jesus, as the Son of God, did not have to assume the lowly life of a man and die a humiliating death on the cross. That was not even the worst of it! As a perfect man who knew no sin, He voluntarily took on all the sin of the world and pay for it. Could you imagine being completely pure and then getting covered with something as vile, wretched and disgusting as sin? As the ancient sacrificial lambs were merely a symbol of what Jesus was to do, Jesus' pure blood had to be shed for the remission of our, not His, but our sins. We deserve to be on that cross, not Him. Even if we were on that cross, shedding our sinful blood would be worthless and would not cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We owe Jesus a huge debt, one which we could never ever pay! But thanks be to God for His gift. If Jesus had chosen not to die on the cross, we would all be condemned to death first, and then eternity in separation from God.  

The Bible is a miracle book. Yes, let me repeat that.  he Bible is a miracle. I believe that for reasons I've already explained. There is no other book like it. I'll elaborate. Other religious books that claim to be Scripture were written by one person over the course of one lifetime. Yet, there are contradictions and mistakes in those other books. That claim is not disputed, most likely because those books are not nearly as hotly contested as the Bible.  

It takes faith to believe in God and in the elements and doctrine of Christianity. I can acknowledge that. I can also see where a lack of faith can hinder our non-believing friends from believing what we believe. But what non-believers cannot honestly deny is that Christianity has dramatically changed lives. So what? I mean, sure, other religions have had converts, other religions have done good things, and other religions have seen people turn over a new leaf. To the secular world, Christianity could have its place, "if that's what works for you."  What is so special about the changed lives in Christianity?  What sets them apart?
  
Let's start by looking at the Twelve Disciples. With the obvious exception of Judas Iscariot, the remaining eleven who had seen Jesus firsthand throughout His three years of ministry had their lives dramatically changed. If you recall, most went into hiding as Jesus was executed. Peter, the most brash and vocal of them, even denied Christ three times. These men, once the closest to Jesus of anybody on the planet, believed it was over, and if possible, were going to resume their lives from before they began following Jesus. What changed within these men to cause them to turn the world upside down for Jesus Christ and start the first church? They had received power from the Holy Spirit, as Jesus had promised them (Acts 1:8). All eleven of these men, who virtually were societal nobodies until following Jesus gave them a temporary social status, were prepared to die a martyr's death in service of our Lord and Savior. Ten of them were executed in manners unthinkable in today's society. The one who remained, John, would not die during his tortuous execution, so they exiled him to the desolate island of Patmos.  

Paul, a.k.a Saul, joined with the eleven apostles and was a key figure in zealously preaching the Word and founding the church. He also was inspired by God to write most of the New Testament. Where did Paul come from? He was a Pharisee, a member of the Sanhedrin, and he was zealously and aggressively attempting to snuff out the early church and imprison, if not kill, Christians wherever he could find them. What caused his change? The Bible reports that he was on the road to Damascus (Acts 9) when he met Jesus. Only Paul saw Him. His travelling companions did not. The experience left him blind for three days, something his travelling companions could not ignore. But something more happened to him that day than just blindness.  

The late, great Chuck Colson credits the disciples for his belief in Christ. Chuck Colson was a key figure in the Watergate scandal and later did prison time for his involvement. He said about the disciples that their testimony was enough for him to believe what they said about Jesus. Colson had been surrounded by the most brilliant political minds of that day, in contrast to the disciples who were just ordinary men. The brilliant men with whom Colson associated could not keep their stories straight, and their case fell apart. Such a huge contrast to the disciples, who were so emboldened after what happened that, not only did they stick to their story, they loudly proclaimed it! According to Chuck Colson, you don't put your life on the line for a lie.  

What about some of the obvious changes visible today? I have already mentioned Chuck Colson, who accepted Christ at some point before going to prison. After serving a minimal sentence (he probably could have avoided prison time, but he willingly went) he emerged and founded Prison Fellowship Ministries. He could have established a pretty lucrative law firm and lived a pretty easy life, but instead felt led by God to serve. There are many former prison inmates whose lives have been changed because something changed inside of Chuck Colson. 

Josh McDowell always considered himself an agnostic during the early stages of his life. At one point, McDowell attempted to disprove Christianity.  During his investigation, McDowell found compelling, overwhelming evidence for the reliability of the Christian faith (Josh McDowell Ministry webpage). Today he has become a very well-known apologist for the Christian faith. His evidence compelled him to write Evidence That Demands a Verdict. He has also written a number of other works. There are many Christian apologists whose lives had been changed because something changed inside of Josh McDowell.

Lee Stroebel was a newspaper reporter. He was a very shrewd investigator with a keen eye for fact and a sharp ability to ask the right questions. He was also a very devout atheist. But when his wife came to a saving knowledge of Christ, Stroebel angrily set out to disprove Christianity once and for all! He investigated as far as he could and interviewed everybody he could think of. Stroebel interviewed scientists, paleontologists, archaeologists, historians, medical doctors, even clergy. Ultimately, just like what happened to McDowell, all the evidence pointed Stroebel right back to Christ. Stroebel made a profession of faith in Christ. He wrote the book, The Case for Christ, and other books to substantiate his belief in Christ. (Admittedly, some of Stroebel's work might have subconsciously found its way into this paper!)

There are plenty of other public examples of changed lives I could probably cite, given enough research. Just speculating - our current President? At this point, he might be too soon to call. The Bible says we shall know them by their fruits (Matthew 7:16-20). But we have all seen people within our normal walks of life whose lives have been changed dramatically and for the good, whose changes could be tied to Christianity.  

Every single Christian out there has seen a change in their very lives. I accepted Christ at the age of 5. Before that, I was immersed deeply in a life of sin. I am so thankful that Jesus rescued me from a life without God and gave me hope. Yes, I joke, because how deep into sin could a five year-old fall? A five year-old whose parents continuously witnessed to him (by their lives) and took him to church. But really, how far is my joke from the truth? Everybody sins, and any sin leads to separation from God. Everybody needs salvation from their sins. Yes, the change in an older convert's life, somebody who had a chance to "sin more," or have more visible sins to be forgiven would be more obvious. But change did happen none-the-less. Even though regrettably I still sin, and I find temporary pleasure in it, I am not drawn to it. I am not a slave to it. In fact, I detest it, I want to repel it! Much like Paul, as he stated in Romans 7. 

I realize using my own internal experience as proof can be risky because everybody has his own personal experiences. Everybody is free to interpret personal experiences as he sees fit. The non-believer could say the derelict on the corner also has his own experiences and has seen his own path to salvation. But my experience is proof to me. From my salvation, to every time the power of the Holy Spirit has come upon me, and any other experiences that I know were the result of God, I can declare my faith boldly!  

I have said before that it takes faith to be a Christian. It takes faith to believe in God, to believe that Jesus is His son and is also God, and to believe He died in our place and rose again. I realize a non-believer could review all the evidence and still not have enough faith to believe. But for me, it is so much more than just faith. God is real! Jesus lives! God gave us a book which is indisputable as His Word! Those three statements are so true that to me, it would take more faith for me to believe in anything other than God.  

How do I know that Christianity is the right way? I have explained exactly why I believe. I have cited articulable facts to support why I believe. I have used Scripture, which is the most important source, to explain my belief. I have also used sources from fellow believers. I have prepared my long answer to explain our position as Christians to an unbelieving world. In writing this, I am brought back to the same conclusion I had at the beginning. It just is, and I just know!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Mass Shootings: The Bible's Answer

Here we go again:  another mass shooting in a “gun-free zone,” this time at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida with a death toll of 17 and 15 more hospitalized. When something like this happens, whether at a school, a church, an entertainment venue, or any other public place, there are the immediate knee-jerk reactions and recriminations to further political agendas, often even before the families have had time be notified.

Democrats blame Republicans and say they “have blood on their hands.” Many Republicans likewise blame Democrats. “Gun-control” politicians blame the NRA, guns themselves, and the 99.99% of gun owners who never have and never will shoot anyone. Gun owners blame those who came up with such ideas as “gun-free zones.” And on and on it goes. The blame always gets put on those who had nothing to do with it, and the individual who did it usually gets sympathy as a “poor, misunderstood kid” who had such potential, but he was bullied and forced by others into what he did. We’ll see how this latest incident plays out.

As usual, there will be statements about “thoughts and prayers,” and there will be those who say such things are pointless. There will be others who call for more gun laws, even though “common-sense gun laws” have, to date, failed to stop gun crime. Gun laws are not only unconstitutional. They are foolish and defy common sense.

In these debates, I come down on the side of those who say that those with intent to do evil are never stopped by laws. Bullies are not stopped by tying the hands of the potential victims and then hoping the bullies will leave them alone. This is little different than herding the potential victims of mass shooters into “gun-free zones,” which should actually be called “free-fire zones” or “target rich environments” and expecting a few signs to keep them safe. Those signs might as well say, “Attention Mass Shooters:  Come on in. No one will shoot back.” That is naiveté of the worst and most dangerous sort. I am fully aware that there was an armed guard on the campus of the school where the most recent shooting took place. However, one armed guard in a school of 3,000 students has little chance of being in the right place at the right time, as is evident by the fact that the guard never had an opportunity to confront the shooter.

Some say we need “more education” in order to stop people from doing bad things. I have seen too many articles about how education is the answer. If a man beats his wife, he needs “more education” on why he shouldn't beat his wife. Right. No one realizes that spousal abuse is wrong unless he has taken the proper education courses to help him see that. The problem is not lack of knowledge. It is a heart problem. As long as politicians and the media insist on blaming inanimate objects and their political opponents for every mass shooting, there will be no real solutions. No amount of education or counseling is going to fix the problem.

The Bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). All human beings are sinners, and sin comes out in different ways in different people. Not everyone will get a firearm and kill people, but we are all sinners, and we all commit sins against God. That is the problem with which we need to deal. It would be extremely difficult to deny this.

Individuals must be held accountable for their actions. Sadly, in our society, we seem to be looking for explanations and reasons instead of holding evildoers accountable. The Bible very clearly addresses this. “Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” (Ecclesiastes 8:11, NKJV). "Moreover you shall take no ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of death, but he shall surely be put to death" (Numbers 35:31, NKJV).

The sin principle must be addressed. Evil actions are all the result of sin. Ultimately, death is the result of sin. We cannot fix this problem by making new laws, banning guns, making more mental health treatment available, or any other bandage we might put on the problem.

The only way to address this is God’s way. The Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is very clear:  “... that Christ died FOR OUR SINS according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day...” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, NKJV).

Sinners, including potential mass shooters, need a Savior, and the Lord Jesus Christ is the only one who can redeem us. Those who ignore that fact will continue to experience the meaninglessness and frustration of living, without answers, in this world full of evil. “Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever” (Galatians 1:3-5, NKJV).

For other posts I have written on this topic, click here and here.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Proposal to Solve Gun Violence

Solving gun violence does not have to be complicated. Actually, it should be very easy. Following is my proposal to solve the problem.

We know that a large percentage of gun crimes are committed with stolen guns. All we have to do is make a new law (Isn't that always the answer? Make a new law.) that says all criminals must submit to a background check and purchase a "gun stealing license" before they are allowed to steal a gun and then wait fifteen days before stealing it. After they steal it, they must register it. That way, after they commit their gun crime, they will be easier to catch. This will work because we know that criminals always obey the laws. If they see a sign that says "gun-free zone," they simply slink away and find something else to do, so obviously if they know it is illegal to steal a gun without a background check and without a license, they simply will not do it.

Does that sound absurd? Obviously, it does, so I fully expect some elected official to pick up on it and propose it, because it is very much like all of the other foolish gun-control laws and proposals.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Daniel's Prayer of Thanksgiving (Repost)

I published this post a few years ago, so instead of writing a new post for Thanksgiving, I decided to repost it.

We so often think of this time of year as a time to thank God for all His blessings – material things – our homes, our cars, our wealth relative to the rest of the world, our country, our freedom, food, etc. For these things we most certainly should be thankful, but Daniel’s prayer of thanksgiving teaches us the importance of being thankful for much more. It reveals a great deal about the nature and character of God – the things on which are based all His blessings to us. We need to be especially thankful all the time, not just at a special time of year.


Daniel’s prayer is found in the second chapter of his prophecy. King Nebuchadnezzar had his dream of the great image, and it troubled him, because he did not know what it meant. He called in all of his magicians, astrologers, sorcerers, and Chaldeans – in other words, his alleged “wise men.” Of course, these men were not truly wise at all. They had no connection with the God of heaven. It quickly became clear that Nebuchadnezzar did not really trust the wise men, because he demanded not only the interpretation but the content of the dream itself. When the wise men asked him to tell them the dream so they could interpret it, he accused them of stalling and threatened to destroy them if they could not tell him the dream, but he promised great rewards for anyone who could do so.

Their response rang quite true. Even these heathen “wise men” had enough sense to know that only God (or “the gods” as they put it) could do what the king was asking. The Chaldeans answered the king, and said, There is not a man on earth who can tell the king's matter; therefore no king, lord, or ruler has ever asked such things of any magician, astrologer, or Chaldean. It is a difficult thing that the king requests, and there is no other who can tell it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh (Daniel 2:10-11, NKJV). 

Nevertheless, the king gave orders to have all of the wise men of Babylon destroyed, and this order included Daniel and his friends. When Daniel found out about the king’s command, he went to his house, along with Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. There they prayed and asked for the answer so that they might not be destroyed with the rest of the “wise men” of Babylon.

Then the secret was revealed to Daniel in a night vision. So Daniel blessed the God of heaven. Daniel answered and said: "Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, And light dwells with Him. I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers; You have given me wisdom and might, And have now made known to me what we asked of You, For You have made known to us the king's demand" (Daniel 2:19-23, NKJV).

This prayer recognizes the superiority of the God of the universe, the God of the Bible, over all false gods that men have created. This we should be thankful for on a daily basis, because if we did not have such a God, He most certainly could not provide for us all of the other things we think about when we list the things for which we are thankful.

Notice the specific content of the prayer.

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever… God is eternal. He is outside of time. He is not limited as we are. We need to see things in eternal perspective and not just temporal perspective. He is eternally worthy of our praise and worship.

…wisdom and might are His. God is all-knowing and all-powerful. All of our questions find their answers in Him, and He is the one who can do something about our situations. There is no situation too big for Him to handle.

He changes the times and the seasons… God controls His creation. This contrasts God with Babylonian fatalism based on astrology. They looked to the stars, but God made the stars. God has power and control over all those things men look to. In spite of the evidence, man has chosen to worship the created thing instead of the Creator.

Romans 1 tells us that …the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse…who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever (Romans 1:18-20, 25, NKJV). 

The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork (Psalm 19:1, NKJV).

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? (Psalm 8:3-4, NKJV). 

He removes kings and raises up kings… God is sovereign. This statement contrasts a sovereign God with the weakness of Babylon deities. We sometimes wonder why God allows certain men – dictators, tyrants – to be in power. We can be confident that He has His reasons. And ultimately, all will bow to Him. 

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11, NKJV).

He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things… God is the source of all wisdom and knowledge. The wise men of Babylon were not really wise men. They were not recipients of divine wisdom. Man is completely dependent on God for wisdom. Professing to be wise, they became fools (Romans 1:22, NKJV). There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death (Proverbs 14:12, NKJV).

He knows what is in the darkness… There is no hiding place from God. He knows all about us.

…light dwells with Him. He is the source of light, in contrast to the darkness. Only He can save human beings.

I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers; you have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of You, for You have made known to us the king's demand. We ought to first and foremost thank God for all He is, and then it will be very natural to thank Him for all He provides.

Coming to grips with the very nature and character of God helps put all things into perspective. No matter what comes into our lives, we who know the Lord can accept it as from the hand of our Heavenly Father who knows all things, who is in control of all things, and who loves us with an everlasting love.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Abundant Evidence

If something is true, there is abundant evidence for that fact. If something is false, there can be no evidence. It is not possible to prove or even to produce legitimate evidence for something that is not true.

Ben Stein asked Richard Dawkins what he would say if he died and ran into God. Dawkins responded, “Bertrand Russell had that point put top him, and he said something like, ‘Sir, why did you take such pains to hide yourself?’”  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlZtEjtlirc

That question makes no sense, because God is not hidden. There is evidence everywhere, from the microscopic world to the immensity of the universe, from the smallest life form to the largest animal and human beings. The evidence for His existence cannot be missed unless people simply choose to ignore it (2 Peter 3:5). On the other hand, there is NO EVIDENCE that would indicate the non-existence of God.

"…the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse…” (Romans 1:18-20, NKJV).

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Resurrection Sunday

Sunday is Easter, or more accurately, “Resurrection Sunday.” Clearly, we should never take the great doctrines of Christianity lightly, and this is especially true of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We should celebrate the Resurrection always, not just one Sunday a year.

The Resurrection is the most important event in all of history. Christianity stands or falls on the truth of the Resurrection. I once had a Muslim young man in a high school Bible class I taught in a Christian school. Obviously, he did not believe in Christ, His substitutionary death on the cross, or His Resurrection. He was very respectful, a good student, got an “A” in my class, and frequently stayed after class to discuss biblical topics. One time he really demonstrated an understanding of truth that sometimes seems to bypass many believers. He said, “If the Resurrection is true, then Christianity is true.” Of course, he went on to tell me why he didn’t believe it, but his statement was nevertheless true and very revealing.

If someone could disprove the Resurrection, they could prove Christianity to be false. It has been attempted many times. Among many others, men like Lee Strobel and Josh McDowell tried it, and after exhaustive research and study attempting to disprove Christianity, they ending up proving just the opposite and become Christians. To an open mind, the evidence for the Resurrection is overwhelming, and it can certainly lead someone to consider and ultimately receive by faith the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

If you live in the Colorado Springs area and don’t have a church you go to regularly, I would like to invite you to Grace Bible Church. Easter Sunday would be a good time to start. Our morning service is at 9:00, followed by Sunday School at 10:45, and we usually have an evening service at 6:00, although we won’t have our evening service this Sunday.

I have previously written a number of articles on the Resurrection. They can be found here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Mike Pence Values His Marriage - What a Scandal!

I have seen politicians criticized and vilified for some really Bozo reasons, but this latest about Vice President Mike Pence is really over-the-top. He has a standard that he will not go out to dinner alone with any women other than his wife. Some are equating that with Sharia Law, and others are saying it clearly means he would never hire a woman to any position of importance. Now that is STUPID. Of course, if he were to be out with a woman other than his wife, no matter what the reason, there would be pictures posted all over the place along with stories of an alleged affair.

The critics need to do better than that, or they need to just give up and go away. I don't know what else to say about it. It seems the reality is that he loves his wife and values his marriage. Is that wrong, just because so many in our culture have ignored and/or rejected such values? His standard in this matter is wise and Biblical. Criticism of such a standard reveals the heart of the critic.

"...do not let your good be spoken of as evil..." (Romans 14:16, NKJV). "...having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed" (I Peter 3:16, NKJV). "...in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you" (Titus 2:7-8, NKJV).