How Old is the Earth?

by Sean Perron

by Sean Perron

Seven Reasons for Seven Days – audio.mp3

There are many Christians who believe God created the world over billions of years. I submit that this is uncritically assumed. Some people view this issue as unimportant. Others view this as the issue to break fellowship over. How should we view this issue? Is it essential or is it a waste of time?

Whether you are going to the movies or whether you are going to school, the issue is bound to surface. The topic of the age of the earth can surface on Fox News or the Discovery channel. It would be odd if Christians never talked about an issue so common in our culture. Christians are not to be ostriches. We are not to drive our heads in the sand. Rather, we are called to think critically and winsomely. We want to be people who bleed Bible and have all of our thinking informed by the Scripture. We want to view life through the lens of the Bible and then proclaim it to the world in a bold and winsome manner.

Seven Reasons for Seven Days:

You can have convictions about secondary issues and still love other brothers and sisters who disagree with you. It is possible to extend fellowship while also discussing controversial matters. Without further ado, here are seven reasons why I believe the days in Genesis are seven literal twenty four hour days.

1. I take the book of Genesis as historical narrative

This all comes down to what type of Genre you are reading. Genesis is different than Psalms. After reading through the book of Genesis, it seems to me that the author is intending to convey a real historical account of real people who lived and died. The book has the markings of historical narrative. Genealogies abound along with specific names and ages of people. It seems out of place to narrow in on the first few chapters and treat them in a different category than the rest of the book. It is true that God creates the world in an orderly and beautiful manner, but it is illogical to think this necessitates inaccuracy. Beauty and order should not be equated with historical inaccuracy. Neither should it be automatically translated into allegory or mere imagery. God can create both in a historical and factual way while also maintaining beauty and symmetry.

2. I am not persuaded by other interpretations of the word “yom” (day)

The number one meaning of the word day is a literally 24 hour day. Only context should cause us to rethink the meaning of a word.

It is true that the word day can mean many different things. “In that day” – meaning a designated time in the future. “Back in the day” – meaning an undesignated time in the past.

The question for interpreters must be, how is the word day being used in a particular context? I have been helped by several articles from Answers in Genesis. Here is a survey of the different uses of the word day:

  • Yom is used 3,000 times in the Old Testament.
  • Yom is used 359 times with a number (1,2,3,4,5,6…) In all of these instances, it refers to a literal day when used with a number.
  • Yom is used 23 times with the phrase “evening and morning.” In all of these instances, it refers to a literal day when used with these phrases.
  • Yom is used 53 times with the word “night” In all of these instances, it refers to a literal day when used with this word.
  • The plural of yom, which does not appear in Genesis 1, can be used to communicate a longer time period, such as “in those days.”
  • There are 9 other Hebrew words that could communicate long periods of time such as “Olam” or “Qedem”
  • What about the fact that the sun is not created until day four? This question does not affect the exegetical nature of the text. The text is still communicating the same reality about “Yom” before day four and after day four.

3. The Torah confirms literal days in the 10 commandments.

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:8-11, ESV)

It seems that the author of Genesis believed that the days in Genesis should be interpreted as literal days. The fourth commandment would not make sense if the days were actually millions of years. To import millions of years grates against the natural reading of the text. “For” = “just as.”

You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death. Whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord.Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever. It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed. And he gave to Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God. (Exodus 31:14-18, ESV)

The question must be addressed: Why do people struggle so much with Genesis 1? I am not aware of anyone questioning the days Jonah was in the whale or how many days Jesus was in the wilderness. No one is questioning the days Saul ran from David. And yet there is more biblical evidence to show that the days in Genesis 1 are more literal than nearly any other days in the Bible. Why question Genesis 1?

 4. It seems the New Testament assumes a young earth

And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’  ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mark 10:2-9, ESV)

Jesus says that man and women were created from the beginning. This statement fits best with a young earth account rather than a long day account of creation. Now certainly it could be assumed that Jesus is accounting for 13 billion years when he makes this statement, but again, this appears to assume a lot more than the text gives. No matter how you dice it, six days is closer to the beginning than 6 billion years.

5. I am not persuaded there are enough gaps in the Biblical genealogies

Even if you had massive gaps in the biblical genealogies, it would not equal enough years to make the evolutionary time scale work. It would not be in the millions. It would be in the thousands.

6. It is the most natural reading of the text

You would never believe in millions of years if you only read the Bible. It is completely true that everyone who reads Genesis for the first time is a young earth creationist. The only reason we are having this discussion is because of Darwinism. Why would you need millions of years otherwise?

The goal of a Christian is to think through the lens of the Bible. The goal is not to unwittingly think through an evolutionary lens. I submit that most Christians assume that this issue is not important and have adapted a foreign worldview into their reading of the first chapter of the Bible.

The question we should be asking is why did God take so long? I remember Ken Ham quoting Martin Luther on one occasion. Luther aptly said, “If you cannot understand how this could not have been done [creation] in six days, then grant the Holy Spirit the honor of being more learned that you are… God is speaking, it is not fitting for you wantonly to turn His Word in the direction you wish it to go.”

7. Death could not have existed before the fall

This is the central issue.

“The secrets of evolution are time and death.” -Carl Sagan (Cosmos, part 2: One voice in the cosmic fugue)

If you remove death, you remove evolution. The struggle for survival and the need to adapt is at the heart of the evolutionary process. To say that God created through evolution is to say that God used death, disease and destruction in the creation process.

The Fossil Record shows: Death, Disease (Cancerous Tumors) and Destruction (Violence and Thorns)

The fossil record reveals death, cancer, tumors, thorns and bloodshed. These are all fossils that are reportedly millions of years old and existed before man sinned. This is contrary to the Genesis account. Thorns are a result of Adam and did not come into the world before him. How could God permit death, disease and destruction into the world when Romans 5:12 says death came through Adam? How could God have used these death and disease to create when he calls all of his creative works “very good” in Genesis 1:25? What you believe about Genesis 1 affects what you believe about Romans 5. If you compromise in one area (intentionally or unintentionally), you might just be compromising in another.

Practical Applications:

1. You need to major on important doctrine without neglecting “smaller” doctrines.

You should welcome and extend the hand of fellowship to those who disagree with you, but you need to have a firm position about things in life. “Young Earth” creationists get slammed for being narrow minded and majoring on the minors. However, I don’t think they should get slammed for this. Rather, the thrust here is to defend the Bible from the very first verse of Genesis. I think it is a big deal. Not because I want to make it my campaign in life to trumpet literal 24 hours days, but because I want to think critically about the Bible. Christians cannot say a rock with thorns in it existed before Adam. We need to think critically and theologically. If I accept that that rock is millions of years old, I am accepting death existed before Adam existed. This has significant implications.

2. We should trust the Word of God from the very first verse. (Proverbs 30:5-6)

The application is not for us to run out of here and interrogate everyone at our church to find out if they believe that God created the world in six literal days. The application is for us to ground ourselves in the Bible and to trust it with all of our might. I want us to be people to think through the lens of the Bible. I don’t want us to unwittingly think through an evolutionary lens.

 

 

 

Small Group Questions:

1. Did you learn anything tonight that you did not know before?

2. Are you afraid to take a stand on the Bible? Why or why not?

3. Brainstorm. What are some “primary” doctrinal issues that are non-negotiable? What are some “secondary” doctrinal issues that are important but you can still fellowship with each other?

4. Do you ever focus on learning theological issues while neglecting personal spiritual growth? Why or why not? Discuss the relationship between learning about the Bible and growing in love for others.

 

Did God use Evolution?

Image

by Sean Perron

What is Evolution?

  • Macro – Evolution = Molecules to Man; Species producing new Species)
  • Micro – Evolution = Changes within a “Kind” or Family” – Species

Micro-Evolution is completely legitimate. Macro-Evolution is in conflict with the Scriptures.

Did the God of the Bible use Evolution? – Audio.Mp3

My heart breaks for the Bill Nyes of the world and I want them to repent of their sins and come to Christ. But I am not ultimately shocked by the Bill Nyes. They do not see the things of God nor do they value the Word of God.

I am shocked by the third group of people who were not represented on that panel. There are people who believed that God designed evolution. This group says they believe the Bible while also maintaining that God used evolution during the creation process. My goal is to show you that a middle way is no way. There is no room for compromise. Either his words are trustworthy or they are not. I am going to argue that it is impossible for God to have used evolution (molecules to man) because he says that is not how he created.

1. Darwinian Evolution is Contradictory to Genesis

  • John 5:45-47 – You cannot believe in Jesus and reject Moses. “For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
  • Genesis is different than Psalms. This is why it is so important to know how to study the bible. Different genres teach different things. Psalms teaches something different than exodus. Certainly there is poetry in the Torah, but it is markedly different than this. This came up in the Bill Nye Debate – Ken Ham is not arguing for a literal interpretation of every verse of the Bible. Instead, Ham is arguing for literal interpretations in genres that are intended by the author to be literal.
  • Genesis 1:24-26
  • “Kind” =  Family (Feline. Canine.Ect)
  • Genesis 7:14
  • Genesis 1:26-27 (Different categories: Fish, birds, livestock, creeping things)

2. Darwinian Evolution is Contrary to God’s Character

  • “The secrets of evolution are time and death.” – Carl Sagan (Cosmos, part 2: One voice in the cosmic fugue)

Death is essential for evolution. The struggle for survival and the need to adapt is at the heart of the evolutionary process. To say that God created through evolution is to say that God used death, disease and destruction in the creation process.

The Fossil Record shows:

  1. Death
  2. Disease
  3. Destruction
  • The fossil record reveals death, cancer, tumors, thorns and bloodshed. These are all fossils that Theistic Evolutionists have to say existed before man sinned. How could God have used these death and disease to create when he calls all of his creative works “very good” in Genesis 1:25?
  • These are not compatible with the word or character of God
  • Why would Romans 8 say the creation is groaning for redemption if this was what it was like in the perfect Garden of Eden? (Romans 8:18-22)

3. Darwinian Evolution Conflicts with the Gospel

  • Romans 5:12
  • Historical Adam – the New Testament authors assume that Adam was a real literal human being.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:26
  • 1 Corinthians 15:45
  • Adapted from Ken Ham: Death cannot be the penalty of sin if God used evolution. Death certainly cannot be the last enemy – its actually a friend to the theistic evolutionist.

Conclusion:

  • There is no middle ground. You must come to the conclusion that some issues for you are not open to debate. There are some issues that you never have to make a decision on. You will never have to make a definite choice of vanilla over chocolate. You can go back and forth, back and forth, one day this, one day that. However, there are some things in which you need to drive a flag into the ground and stand by it. There are a few things in life that you need to count on. You need to make a decision about whether you will believe God’s Word from the very beginning of Genesis. Either God is who he said he is – or he is not. You cannot sit on the fence on this one.
  • We must trust God from the very beginning. God is the same yesterday and today and forever. We must believe his word and not compromise in any area.
  • We must have faith seeking knowledge. We need to have intellectual answers because this is what God requires of us. To think critically in faith. Not critically against faith. But faith seeking knowledge.
  • Ideas have consequences. What you believe about Genesis 1 affects what you believe about Romans 5. If you compromise in one area, you might just be compromising in another.

Small Group Discussion:

  1. Have you considered the importance of Genesis before? How does our previous study on Genre affect a person’s interpretation of Genesis?
  2. Are you a person with convictions? Do you have a hard time standing for truth?
  3. Are you seeking truth with eyes of faith? Or are you seeking truth with a skeptical heart?
  4. How does the biblical teaching that we are made in the image of God impact how we view ourselves and others? How does this differ from the teaching of Darwinism that we are simply higher animals?

Has the Bible been Altered?

by Joe Bayless

by Joe Bayless

Has the Bible been Altered? – Audio – mp3 [Min 26 – Summary and Q&A Begins]

THE FIRST CLAIM: “The manuscripts of the Bible contain so many errors that it cannot be trusted.”

The Evidence:

  • The Bible we have today came to us through a long process.
  • The Bible began by God inspiring the authors to write down His word without error. The original manuscripts of the Bible were flawless.
  • As Christianity grew, more and more Christians wanted to read these inspired words, so copies had to be made. But, at this time, the printing press had not been invented. Copies had to be made by hand.
  • Scribes could make copies by themselves by looking at a manuscript and then copying what they saw onto a new sheet.
  • Or, a group of scribes could come together and have someone read the manuscript to them while the wrote down what they heard.
  • Sometimes these scribes would misspell or mishear a word or a phrase and write it down wrong. (It’s inevitable that human error would come into play).These small changes would go unnoticed sometimes, but sometimes they would be corrected by the scribe himself or an editor.

Example:

Growing up, one of the ways my mom would punish me was by making me write down huge portions of scripture. I had to copy the Gospel of John one time. So I would look at my Bible, and then write down a section of what I just read. I had so many copying errors. I had misspelled words. I wrote down words twice. Luckily, I did it in pencil, so I could correct a lot of the errors I had. Scribes struggled with the same thing when copying manuscripts of the Bible.

  • Let’s pretend we’re a group of scribes. Copy down what I say. You’re not allowed to ask for clarification on the word. Just write down the word you think I’m saying.
  • Say the word “pen.” If this experiment works, some will think I said “pin” and write that down.
  • There are scholars who dedicate their lives to studying manuscripts of the New Testament, comparing them to one another, trying to figure out what the original writers wrote.
  • They have developed a science to help them determine what was originally written. A lot of this “science” is common sense.

For instance:

Let’s say you read a note from your parents. Let’s say in the note your parents tell you that they’re going to eat at a restaurant for dinner. Let’s say that your parents misspell the word “restaurant.” When you’re reading that letter, will you be able to figure out what they’re saying even though they misspelled the word? They are able to piece together the various manuscripts to figure out what Paul, Luke, and John wrote. We don’t have a copy of the original manuscripts that Paul, Luke, and John wrote. But because we have so many manuscripts and are able to compare them with one another, we can have confidence that we know what the biblical authors wrote.

  • Their studies have shown that NT manuscripts are in 99% agreement as to what words should be there. The other 1% doesn’t affect any doctrine of Christianity.
  • More and more manuscripts are being discovered all the time.
  • 2007 – 5500 manuscripts, 2011 – 5700 manuscripts.
  • Each new manuscript is studied and compared with other manuscripts. So far no manuscript has been discovered that undermines other previously discovered manuscripts. In other words, there’s no silver bullet manuscript that shoots down the claims of Christianity. In fact, new manuscript discoveries have proven time and time again the validity of the Bible as the word of God.
  • Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in the late 40s, early 50s.
  • Before their discovery, the earliest OT manuscripts we had were from the 10th century A.D. People said, “Well, how can we trust the OT without old manuscripts?”
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered and dated to around 100 BC to 300 BC. It is in agreement with the 10th century manuscripts.

Conclusions:

           

1. All evidence points to the fact that the manuscripts of the Bible can be trusted.

  • A lot of these so-called “errors” are spelling errors and word order errors. But because scholars can use common sense and science to figure out these errors, and because they can compare manuscripts to each other, we can know with confidence what the original NT writers wrote.
  • A lot of these manuscripts are very high quality with no copying errors.

Application:

  • The Bible can be trusted as the word of God.
  • Manuscripts prove the trustworthiness of the Bible time and time again.
  • The Bible you hold in your hand faithfully represents what the New Testament authors wrote down in the Greek Manuscripts.
  • Be thankful for those who have labored to get the Bible from the Apostle John, the Apostle Paul, Luke, Peter, and others down to you.
  • Many of these scribes labored in difficult conditions. (Bad lighting, poor equipment, persecution)
  • They labored so hard and so faithfully because people wanted to hear God’s words. The reason why there are so many manuscripts is because there’s something special about the words that are on the manuscripts; and that something special is the fact that these words are the very words of God.

THE SECOND CLAIM: “The early church altered the manuscripts to create a lot of doctrines.”

The Evidence:

  • A little church history will help us assess this claim.
  • The early church experienced off and on persecution from the Roman Empire.
  • Some early church leaders wrote to Rome to defend Christianity (Justin Martyr and Tertullian).

1) Justin Martyr ca. A.D. 165

2) Tertullian A.D. 220

  • Persecution officially stopped with Constantine the Great when he issued the Edict of Milan in 313 A.D.
  • Christianity becomes the official religion of the Roman Empire in 381 A.D.
  • The early church held universal councils in 325, 381, 431, and 451 A.D.

1) The purpose of these debates was to work out doctrinal issues.

2) They didn’t convene together to “create” a Bible.

  • A man by the name of Athanasius wrote a letter in 367 A.D. that contains a list of all 27 books of the New Testament.

Why is church history important in helping us assess this?

  • We see that the early church isn’t creating a conspiracy.
  • They’re genuine believers who have a genuine desire to see people believe in the gospel.
  • When they meet together in councils, they’re talking about issues that affect believers in their churches.
  • We see that the church didn’t “create” or “alter” the Bible during the early church councils.

a) They affirmed what had already been used in churches.

b) Churches had been using letters of Paul and John to edify the church.

c) When church fathers were writing letters and books, they quote the letters of Paul, the Gospel of Mark, Matthew, Luke, and other writings. If we were to take all of their biblical quotations and put them together, we would be able to construct the entire New Testament from their quotations alone. When we compare their quotations to actual manuscripts we have, they have no major disagreement with the manuscripts.

  • Studying the 5700+ manuscripts really helps us in assessing this claim.
  • Let’s say hypothetically that we have only manuscripts that date from 1000 A.D. Let’s also say hypothetically that we discover some manuscripts dating from around 300 A.D.
  • If the early church altered manuscripts to create doctrine, it would show itself somewhere in all of our manuscripts. It would also show itself when we study the biblical quotations of the early church fathers.

Post Debate: Some Thoughts

by Sean Perron

by Sean Perron

Thousands of people watched the Bill Nye and Ken Ham debate last night. Seventy news and media reporters were present at the debate and the event has brought international attention to the issues at hand. What should we make of the debate?

It is always problematic (and unnecessary) to declare a “winner” in these type of debates. Each candidate has areas he can improve arguments and oratory skill. My point with this post is not to declare a winner, but to point out some important elements of the debate. Here are some reflections for consideration:

Ken Ham:

  • Regardless of what you think of Mr. Ham, I think it is fair to say he demonstrated that six-day Creationists are not just from backwaters of Louisiana. There are credible, award-winning scientists who believe that God created the world in literal 24-hour days approximately 6,000 years ago. These creationists have worked on projects such as the MRI scanner to NASA technology. Mr. Ham resounded the gong that creationism does not equal stupidity. You can be a good rocket scientist and hold to Mr. Ham’s position.
  • Mr. Ham also is a very bold man. He did not shirk away from hot-topics and he stood his ground. I want to be like him and stand on the Word of God.
  • Mr. Ham’s position should also be seriously considered by theologians. It is unbelievably problematic to argue that death was around before Genesis chapter three. This is the deal breaker for me in theology. If the fossils have cancer and death in them, then this is actually a theological issue. Theologians who ignore this reality are setting the church up for failure. Mr. Ham is right – the age of the earth does matter. (I am thankful Mr. Ham pointed out that although it is a significant issue, it is not directly a salvation issue).

Bill Nye:

  • Mr. Nye is a good communicator and fun guy. He appears to love science and I would like to hang out with him sometime.
  • It became clear that Mr. Nye has serious issues with Christianity as a whole. He was the least convincing when he journeyed into theological territory. He repeatedly brought up the issue of the Bible being translated repeatedly through generations into “American English.” It seems his knowledge of the textual criticism is deeply lacking as well as his knowledge of the Bible (he readily admitted that he was not a theologian). His statements about genre and how the New Testament relates to the Old show that theology is not his field.
  • Perhaps the most unexpected moment of the debate for me was when Mr. Nye was asked two deeper philosophical questions. 1) Where did the atoms come from to start the big bang? 2) Where did the human conscience come from? Mr. Nye was unable to answer these questions and urged younger people to pursue scientific investigation to find these answers. This was the most heartbreaking point in the debate. Mr. Nye was unable to answer life’s most important theological and philosophical questions. Although he would not admit to it, science has failed him. “Science” simply cannot answer the questions he was asked. I submit that this is because Mr. Ham’s argument holds water- it is in the category of “historical science” which is determined by worldview.
  • Mr. Ham starts with God’s revelation to mankind. Mr. Nye starts with man’s understanding of the world around him. This is where the action is. This is where their worldviews collide.

Unanswered questions during the debate (or questions that needed more time)

For Ham from Nye:

  1. Can your model predict any scientific discoveries for the future? (partially answered)
  2. Can you show me one fossil that is mixed with smaller organisms? (not answered)
  3. What about all those who disagree with you? (answered)

For Nye from Ham:

  1. Can you show me one instance of new information being added in a mutation? (not answered)
  2. Can you explain why there are natural laws that are dependable if God does not exist? (not answered)
  3. Why are you excited about new discoveries if there is no life after death? (partially answered)

I want to encourage you to watch the debate yourself. It will be available for a limited time on debatelive.org and is also available for purchase.

How Could God Send People to Hell?

by Sean Perron

by Sean Perron

Five Questions about Hell – Audio.Mp3

What did Jesus teach about Hell?

1. Real (Mark 9:42-48)

  • Jesus spoke about hell more than anyone in the bible.

2. Terrible (Mark 9:48)

  • Worm never dies.
  • Fire never ceases.

3. Eternal

  • The presence of God is what makes heaven marvelous and hell miserable. (Psalm 139:7-12; Revelation 20:7-10, 15; Revelation 14:8-12)
  • The greatest thing about heaven is beholding the face of God and seeing him. (1 Peter 1:8; Rev 22:4)
  • The most horrific thing about hell is being constantly crushed under the wrathful glory of God.

Why does Hell exist?

1. Justice – Jesus is returning to bring justice upon the earth. (Rev 19:11-16 > Isaiah 63:1-9)

2. Love – As strange as it may seem, hell exists because God is loving. Jesus is going to right every wrong. He will bring retribution for every injustice. Every woman who has been taken advantage of, will have justice. Every criminal who has stolen, will be found out. Every crooked cop, every mocking skeptic, every hardened murderer, every abuser, every vile sinner will receive the just payment for their deeds. This is good. We want this. It is wrong for us to take out vengeance, but it is completely right for God to do this.  (Romans 12:9) It is actually biblical for us to want to justice. (Rev 6:9-11). By displaying justice on earth, God is loving his people. He is taking care of them. He is shepherding them and protecting them. (Rev 19:1-5)

Why does Hell last forever?

The punishment must fits the crime – If asked you to come over to my home at 7pm and you didn’t show up until 8:30pm, and then I asked you why and you just said, Oh, I didn’t feel like it, that would be offensive. But it would not be anywhere near as bad if I was the President of the United States. The offense is more severe if the person has a greater status and honor.

God deserves an eternal amount of praise. God is infinite. He is beyond imaginable in his might and glory. Every second of eternity past has been devoted to praising his name. Holy, Holy, Holy the angels cry in Isaiah chapter 6 and the never cease.

When we sin against God, we are sinning against someone who deserves an eternal amount of praise. He deserves an infinite amount of glory and therefore the only punishment that would fit his honor would be eternal punishment – because it is matchless. The punishment can never match his glory – this is why it lasts forever. If we are upset that hell lasts forever, it is because we do not understand how glorious God is. If we are angry at God that he would do something like this, it is because we are only thinking in finite terms and we have not seen what the angels in heaven have seen.

How could God send people to hell if he is loving?

1. God loves himself (Matthew 22:37)

  • God first and foremost loves himself. We must define love by this standard. (1 John 4:8) Love is not putty that can be turned in any direction. Love is real and love has a name – Jesus. The first priority God has is himself. (John 15:9) Jesus is not an idolater. If we think life is all about us, it is not true. God loves his own glory more than he loves us and God will send us into hell if he thinks he will get glory by doing so.

2. God loves his people (Romans 5:8)

  • The fact that God loves himself is good news for us. This means that is loving for God to bring us into fellowship with himself. Does your heart beat for you or for the glory of God? Do you come to God in order to praise his glory or do you come to God so that you can escape hell?
  • God loves himself and he invites you to come love him. This is the only thing that will satisfy you and this is what you were created for. God created you to know and love him. And that is not selfish of God – because God is worthy. If I was to say, everyone of you should bow down and praise me, it would be a hideous sin. But not Jesus – it is right and good. And God is loving when he allows us to come and worship him.

3. God cannot overlook sin. (Romans 3:21-26)

  • “God’s smile is not an all-approving grin.”
  • The cross is the perfect display of this reality. Jesus took hell upon himself for all who would believe in him. He was the only one who could do it. He was the only one who was infinitely worthy to die and bear the weight of sin.

How should we respond?

  • Rely only on the blood of Jesus (John 19:30)
  • Rejoice in the blood of Jesus (Revelation 1:5)
  • Relay the good news

How do we know Jesus is God?

by Sean Perron

by Sean Perron

How do we know Jesus is God? – audio.mp3

Did Jesus exist?

Christian Claims

  • Clemet of Rome – Bishop of the church at Rome. “The Apostles received the Gospel for us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ was sent forth from God.”*
  • Ignatius. “Jesus Christ who was of the race of David, who was the Son of Mary, who was truly born and ate and drank, was truly persecuted under Pontius Pilate, was truly crucified and died in the sight of those in heaven and on earth and those under the earth; who moreover was truly raised from the dead…”*

Non-Christian Claims

  • Cornelius Tacitus – Roman Historian (A.D. 68). Wrote the Annals and the Histories

“But not all the relief that could come from man, not all the bounties that the prince could bestow, nor all the atonements which could be presented to the gods, availed to relieve Nero from the infamy of being believed to have ordered the conflagration, the fire of Rome. Hence to suppress the rumor, he falsely charged with the guilt, and punished with the most exquisite tortures, the persons commonly called Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time, broke out again, not only through Judea where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also. (Annals XV. 44)*

  • Pliny the Younger – Governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor (A.D. 112)

Pliny persecuted Christians heavily and reported to emperor Trajan that he also “made them curse Christ, which a genuine Christian cannot be induced to do.” … “They affirmed, however, that the whole of their guilt, or their error, was, that they were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verse a hymn to Christ as to a god, and bound themselves to a solemn oath, not to do any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft, adultery, never to falsify their word, not to deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up.” (Epistles X.96)*

  • Babylonian Talmud. “It has been taught: On the eve of Passover they hanged Yeshua.”*

 *from Evidence for Christianity by Josh McDowell

Did Jesus claim to be God?

  • God alone ­­­­­­­­­­­forgives sins. (Mark 2:1-12)
  • Jesus was killed because he claimed to be God (Mk 14:55-65 > Daniel 7:13-14)
  • God alone should be worshiped. (John 20:24-29 > Revelation 22:8-9)

How can we know Jesus is God?

Liar, Lunatic, Lord,

  • If Jesus was not Lord, but believed he was, then he was crazy.
  • If Jesus was not Lord, and knew it, then he was wicked.
  • If Jesus was not Lord, he was not a good teacher.
  • Jesus said people must deny themselves: Luke 9:23
  • Jesus said people must love him supremely: Luke 14:26
  • Jesus said people must suffer for him: Mark 13:9-13

He went through one of the more excruciating deaths ever conceived by man. Nails pierced through his hands and his feet, the weight of his own body is pulling and tearing at his flesh as it hands from a wooden beam, naked, extreme thirst and exhaustion of having to pull himself up even to speak, being spit on and whipped. If Jesus really believed he was doing the will of God by being on that cross and it was not true, Jesus was insane. He was a lunatic. He said he was going to raise the dead and judge the world. Crazy people talk like this unless it is true.

  • Perhaps he really knew he was not God, and he suffered all of these things. If so, then we should have nothing to do with him. He demanded that people be tortured for something that was not true. He was wicked. He was evil. He was as wicked as Adolf Hitler and has sent millions to their deaths. He was a liar and not a good teacher.
  • The final and most reasonable option is that Jesus was who he claimed to be. Perhaps he was Lord. Perhaps he was God in the flesh. Perhaps it was true. (Mark 15:39)

These are your only three options – You cannot escape them. Either he was a liar, he was a lunatic, or he was the Lord of all the earth. You cannot praise him as simply a good teacher to be admired or as a role model.

Resurrection Evidence

What happened to his body?

  • If you are not going to believe that Jesus was God, you have to explain away the empty tomb. The tomb was empty. Something had to have happened to his body.

Option 1: Perhaps Jesus never really died

A Romans centurion would have been killed for letting a mistake like this happen. They broke the bones of the criminals on his left and his right, but they didn’t even need to do this to Jesus because he had already died. In fact, Pilate was surprised he died so quickly. They pierced his side with a spear and blood and water flowed out. This is a medical description that shows what happened when the liquid separates within a dead corpse.

Option 2: Perhaps it was not Jesus who was crucified, perhaps it was actually one of the disciples.

The Pharisees wanted to be sure that Jesus was dead because they hated him so much. They hated Jesus and they were present at the crucifixion account. They looked upon Jesus and mocked him. To say that it was simply someone who looked like Jesus is not reasonable. This would also mean that the disciple in his place would have been dying for a lie. This would also mean the disciple was dying for something he knew was untrue and the other apostles would also die for something they knew to be false.

Very few people are willing to suffer torture and die for a lie. Now, many people will die for falsehood. Muslim terrorists kill themselves for something that is not true. Yet, they really believe it to be true. I cannot think of an example in history where someone was willing to go through torture and deep pain all the while knowing they what they are suffering for is actually false.

Option 3: Perhaps the body was stolen by the disciples.

But this would mean that they were living and dying for a lie. If they stole it, then they knew what they were suffering for was actually in vain. They would not be doing this for glory! They were poor, beaten, crushed and persecuted. (2 Corinthians 1:8-9; 2 Corinthians 4:8-11)

Option 4: Perhaps the body was stolen by Jesus’ enemies.

This is the most unlikely of all the options. It would be completely contrary to their agenda. By stealing the body, they would be shooting themselves in the foot.

Changed Lives

Peter was a scared coward before the crucifixion. He denied Jesus three times and forsook him when they came to take Jesus away. Yet in Acts chapter 2, Peter is boldly proclaiming the truth of God and even defies the religious leaders. Why the change? Because he saw the resurrected Christ. Since Peter, there have been millions of Christians who have experienced new life in Christ.

How should we respond?

  1. Submit to the Lordship of Jesus. Have you believed that Jesus is the Son of God risen from the dead? If you confess with you mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Perhaps God is calling you to believe in him right now. Please do this and submit to the Lordship of Jesus.
  2. Bold faith. We don’t need to worry about whether Jesus was God. He is God and he is going to judge the living and the dead. We can act like this because it is true. Christianity is logical, historical and does not conflict with science. We can sleep at night and boldly approach God in prayer.
  3. Share Christ with unbelievers. Others around us need to know the truth of the resurrection. Who are some people you can share with this upcoming year?

Small Group Discussion:

  1. Which of arguments mentioned tonight is new to you? Which one is the most persuasive to you?
  2. Which one of the application points do you need to apply most tonight and tomorrow?
  3. Pick one evidence for the Lordship of Jesus and restate it in your own words. Think carefully and clearly as if you were talking with someone who did not believe in Jesus.
  4. Does this material comfort or convict you in anyway? Please share.

How Do We Know God is Real?

 

by Sean Perron

by Sean Perron

Q: How do we know God is real? – Audio.mp3

The Bible assumes the God exists.

  • Genesis 1:1

The Bible condemns unbelief. (What is at stake?)

  • Psalm 14:1 – How we answer this question determines whether we are wise or foolish.
  • 1 John 5:10 – How we answer this question determines whether God is honest or a liar
  • John 3:36 – How we answer this question determines whether we are eternally saved or eternally condemned.

 

Evidential Arguments – uses logic and reason to examine the facts. This is like an investigator or an inspector.

  • Psalm 19:1

If mankind is so important, why are we on the edge of a random galaxy in the midst of 100,000 galaxies? It seems we are an accident! Carl Sagan, “A lonely speck in the magnitude of the universe.” This is one way to answer this question. Or it could be that we are to be humble and we are insignificant in comparison to God!

Everything around us has a cause.

  • You look at a piece of art and you assume a creator. You look at a complex machine and you assume a builder. (Hebrews 3:4) This makes complete scientific, rational, and logical sense.

Everything has a purpose.

  • It appears that we live in a fine tuned universe. It appears that Earth was created with the purpose of sustaining life. Is there something unique about the earth?
  • There are too many factors that have to be set up at the right time in the right proportion that would make us believe Earth happened by chance. More are on the audio, but here are just a few taken from the Privileged Planet:
  1. Liquid water – too hot, vapor. Too cold – freezes. Too much pressure, evaporates. Be able to absorb heat and be dissolvable. Removes heat temperature from the earth.
  2. Habitable zone. – there is a small region (5% closer, we would be like Venus – 900 degrees) (20% away, we would be like Mars with frozen water) This is the sweet spot in our solar system.
  3. Terrestrial planet – 40 – 30 miles thick. Any thicker and we could not have tectonic plate movements. (there has to be about 12 of them in the earth and the recycle the carbon that is necessary for life.)  There needs to be the right amount of tectonic plates in order for it to recycle the air. If these combinations do not work all at the same time, life cannot exist.
  4. Magnetic field – if any smaller – could not protect from radiation of the sun. We would be like Mars with a smaller planet.
  5. Large Moon. Our moon is large compared to others. The moon controls the tides. The waves would come from Texas and hit Canada if the moon was a different size. We could not have seasons and our temperature would be drastically different. The whole planet could be Antarctica or the Arabian desert. Our sun is 400x larger than our moon. Yet it is 400x further away. This means a solar eclipse is possible. The sun and the moon fit perfectly from our perspective.

Philosophical Arguments –  use philosophy and foundational questions to prove the existence of God.

Human Soul

  • Every person has been built with a moral meter
    • Are morals determined by the majority or by an outside source?
    • Atheist cannot say something is wrong or sinful. They can say it is not in the best interest of society, but they cannot say something is intrinsically wrong. A consistent atheist cannot say Adolf Hitler was wrong.
    • There is something in every human that grates against injustice and says lying is wrong. A Darwinist could say that this is done to enhance survival of the fittest, but this does not make the most sense. It may not always be in my best interest to tell the truth. It may not always benefit society for me to remain faithful to my wife or to submit to my governing authorities. Jesus says the road to eternal life is hard and there are few that find it. This makes more sense of the moral compass in our hearts.
  • Your soul will never be satisfied apart from God (The book of Ecclesiastes)
    • Search and search for meaning and purpose in life and you will not find it outside of the gospel of Jesus.
    • Life is utterly pointless if there is nothing after death. Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die. (1 Corinthians 15:31-32)
  • Atheists have the despairing reality of never knowing if they are right.
    • How do you know that we really exist? How do you know that I am actually having a conversation with you right now? How do you know that we are not a part of some grand experiment by aliens and we are actually attached to a machine and being harvested? The reality is, the atheist cannot fully know truth. In fact, no one can truly know truth unless they know everything. Or unless they trust in someone who does know everything. God knows whether or not there are aliens docked outside a nearby galaxy sucking out our brains. And he has told us there isn’t. He has told us we are real and that our life matters.

Application:

  1. Christians should be the most humble and confident people in the universe.
  2. Christians should live like theists and not atheists.
  3. Skeptics should repent of their unbelief and worship their creator.

 

Small Group Discussion:

  1. Which of arguments mentioned tonight sticks with you the most? Did you disagree with any of the arguments?
  2. In what ways do you believe God exists but live like he does not?
  3. Do you find yourself being filled with pride or humility because of these facts?
  4. If a friend asked you how do you know God is real, in your own words explain your answer.