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Atheists “strongest” Arguments

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This was originally posted in 2018. I repost with some slight editing (September 2021)

There is a battle of ideas in our secular world. Many atheists and agnostics are influential because the selfishness of man is a powerful desire to dismiss. In this long essay (2400 words), I give attention to some arguments set forth for why God is asserted to not exist.

http://www.argumentsforatheism.com/arguments_atheism_evil.html

“The Problem of Evil (or the Argument from Evil) argues that an almighty creator-god, capable of creating or destroying anything and even capable of suspending or re-writing the laws of nature, such as is envisaged by most of the major world religions, should easily be powerful enough to alleviate all needless suffering in the world, to provide adequate resources for everyone, to prevent the occurrence of fatal or debilitating diseases or birth defects and to prevent all manner of destructive natural disasters. Indeed, an infinitely benevolent and loving god, of the kind envisioned by Christianity, Judaism and Islam, should make such actions his first priority. And yet what we see in the world is very different from that picture – proof positive that there is no such god in existence.”

REPLY: In reply to this argument, the website offers what they call ad hoc replies by some theists, which, of course, is not any kind of counter argument or reply at all. The closest they come to giving a substantive theist reply is in relation to (1) man’s free will (though this is summarily dismissed by speaking of natural evils, or disasters), and (2) since evil can’t be precisely identified, it is nevertheless the case that God (if there is one) should act in such a way to eliminate evil. Atheism can’t account for man’s free will; in fact, an atheist is a materialist, and a mechanical (man is a machine) one at that. Also, since atheist can’t identify evil, their argument structure is made of hot air, upon which nothing is able to rest.  

Note this remark: “There is no fixed and unchanging Platonic form or essence of evil. Like good, evil is merely a human construct, and to call something ‘evil’ does not lead us to a greater understanding of evil behaviour.” 

If “good” or “evil” is a human construct, then there is no such thing as an actual good or evil, except as a human being so identifies it. Thus, to identify an “evil” from the atheistic vantage point is clearly arbitrary (as is the word “good”). Consequently, the counter argument against God’s existence goes nowhere because “evil,” as defined/identified by an atheist, is “begging the question”, or asserting something so (evil) without identifying or proving it to be the case.

A second reply is related to moral obligation. “…if God is ‘good’ in the same way that [he] expects us to be ‘good’, then he should act to prevent such calamities…”. Moral obligation does not and cannot prevail in atheism. Moral obligation within atheism is inherently a choice based on one’s desire (related to hedonism); there is no objective or transcendent obligation placed on humanity, not even a little bit! Atheists, however, want us to accept the premise of their argument along this line, and it is not to be granted. As soon as they attribute to God a moral obligation, they need to give the basis for that moral obligation. They can’t.

According to atheistic philosophy, the following remark is the foundation: “In the atheist hypothesis, on the other hand, there is no expectation that the world should be a good place, or that evil should not exist.” Judges 17:6 reads, “There was no king in Israel at that time; everyone did whatever they wanted” (GNB). An atheist would simply re-word it the passage to read this way: “There is no god in this world; so everyone can do what they want – since there is no real wrong or evil in this world, neither is there a real right or good in this world.” 

This is a desired world of an atheist’s making.

“The Argument from Lack of Empirical Evidence argues that there has not been any reliable, testable evidence to support the hypothesis that God exists despite many attempts, and it is therefore not rational to believe that there is a God. If God interacts with our universe in any meaningful way, then the effects of his interaction must be detectable and measurable, but no such interactions have been reliably demonstrated.”

REPLY: Empirical evidence is an interesting word. Notice this remark: “If God interacts with our universe in any meaningful way, then the effects of his interaction must be detectable and measurable, but no such interactions have been reliably demonstrated.” 

Detectable and measurable are interesting terms. Let us reword this remark to make a parallel statement. “The Argument from Lack of Empirical Evidence argues that there has not been any reliable, testable evidence to support the hypothesis that evolution from spontaneous generation ever occurred despite many attempts, and it is therefore not rational to believe that the general theory of evolution is true.”  

However, the general theory of evolution is not true. Since there are no known exception to the so-called “laws of science” (Miller 9, 2017), “…the laws of thermodynamics prove the spontaneous generation and the eternality of matter are logically and scientifically impossible” (Miller 36, 2017). Yet, here we are, existing in a material Universe.

The material world/universe exists. There are only two options to account for its existence; 1) it always existed, 2) it came into existence. The first option is false.

The lingering decline predicted by astronomers for the end of the world differs from the explosive conditions they have calculated for its birth, but the impact is the same: modern science denies an eternal existence of the Universe, either in the past or in the future (Robert Jastrow, cited by Dr. Jeff Miller in Science vs. Evolution, 2013, Apologetics Press, p. 30, emp. added in book).

This leaves the second option of the two available.

The second option of the material universe having come into existence, then, presents us with two additional or “sub” options: 1) it came into existence without a cause, 2) it came into existence by a cause. On the first of the two options, “Until the First Law of Thermodynamics ceases to be a fundamental law explaining this Universe, the spontaneous generation of this Universe from nothing is impossible” (Miller, p. 27). Thus, the first option is false. Miller cites the words of Lord Kelvin, the Father of Thermodynamics:

I do not say that, with regard to the origin of life, science neither affirms nor denies Creative Power. Science positively affirms Creative Power…It is not in dead matter that we live and move and have our being, but in the creating and directive Power which science compels us to accept as an article of belief… (p. 33).

That leaves the second “sub” option, and from this comes two more options from which the material universe came into existence: 1) God, 2) not God. There is no third option.

John Lennon’s words to his song “Imagine” is wishful thinking, not based in reality. One can imagine there is no heaven, no hell, but that is only because the heart is deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9). The secular world in which we live does not want to give attention to these matters because, as a society, if we do (including individually), then questions with the corresponding answers becomes clearer. 1) Where did we (I) come from? 2) Why are we (am I) here? 3) Where are we (am I) going? To a hedonistic society, these profound (and answerable) questions bring meaning and purpose to life, and hedonists (atheists, agnostics, secularists, progressives, liberals, some theists) don’t want that, lest they be deadly wrong in their moral philosophy. In the end, John Lennon’s inquiry/message in the song is meaningless.

The scientific method atheists and agnostics are fond of (especially), leaves them hanging in mid-air, with no foundation upon which they can stand. The material universe has not always existed but came into existence. The material universe that came into existence did not come into existence by spontaneous generation but came into existence by a cause. That cause, however, from the perspective of the atheist is not God (a priori)!

Who or what then? There is absolutely, positively no evidence that is on their side in this debate.

The creation of the universe remains unexplained by any force, field, power, potency, influence or instrumentality known to physics – or to man. The whole vast imposing structure organizes itself from absolutely nothing. This is not simply difficult to grasp. It is incomprehensible. (Berlinski, 1998, quoted in Investigating Christian Evidence, 2003, p. 18).

Since atheists/agnostics demand evidence based knowledge, and the premises I submitted are evidence, then which of the options, God or not God, will they choose? Will “not-God” be chosen, then by atheistic faith (a leap in the dark) the evidence they demand must be forthcoming. We will wait.

“Atheism stresses moral responsibility and the need to make moral decisions appropriate to the here and now, rather than just acting in accordance with religious scriptures and always with a view to a reward or punishment in some unproven after-life. Some of these ideas are addressed in more detail in the sections on the Moral Argument and the Argument from Justice.”

REPLY: What a lark! This is the weakest of all the arguments atheists put forth for the non-existence of God. Take note of the empty remark by Madalyn O’Hair: “An Atheist believes that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An Atheist believes that deeds must be done instead of a prayer said. An Atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death.” This is nothing but a strawman attempt to make fun of Christians. In truth, there is no argument in what she said, and neither is there any substance in her words, otherwise.

Since an atheist cannot not identify that which is intrinsically good or bad, I find this remark interesting: “Religion tends to give people bad reasons to behave well…because a god wants you to do it, or will reward you for doing it, or will punish you for not doing it…” Really? A bad reason? Then there is this: “when good reasons are actually available…out of concern for the suffering of others or for the need to tread lightly on the earth, because it is the ‘right thing to do’.” What are those good reason, when man can’t even identify what is morally good except on the basis of what he likes? Remember this remark? “In the atheist hypothesis, on the other hand, there is no expectation that the world should be a good place, or that evil should not exist.” If there is no expectation the world is a good place, or should be a good place, then how can “good” exist?

Yes, I know, there is a difference between the quality “good” existing and whether the world is a good place or not. But, in the case of the atheistic argument, there is no standard available to determine whether anything can be ascribed as “good” or not. Remember, it’s nothing but a human construct, thus, it does not really exist. “There is no fixed and unchanging Platonic form or essence of evil. Like good, evil is merely a human construct, and to call something “evil” does not lead us to a greater understanding of evil behaviour.”

Jesus made this same point when He asked of a young man, “Why do you call me good?” He followed up with the clear observation from heaven, “No one is good but One, that is, God.” (Matthew 19:17, NKJV). “Good” as a human construct? If so, then there is no such quality existing in life. The sheer number of people living on earth at one time, allows for the word to be defined however one wants, or constructed according to one’s likes or dislikes. “Good” as a construct from heaven, allows one to understand the word “good” in relation to God’s holiness. There is no “good” outside the will of a being. Man’s only two options.

One’s ethical behavior is motivated by something. It may be motivated by affection, judgment, love, pressure, or something else. It is fool hardy to say it is not motivated by some response one gains from another. Should a person not steal only because there is fear is getting caught? “No, you should not steal because you take for yourself what belongs to another, and that is wrong.” An atheist can’t tell you why this is the wrong course of action to take (stealing from others), except to say, “This is what I think about the matter.” “So!” another might reply, “What does it matter to me why you think this? Your opinion is of no more value than my own; I think differently!”

This is illustrated well by Bertrand Russell’s daughter, in her book, My Father Bertrand Russell (Katherine Russell Tait, Harcourt, NY, 1975).

“In the last volume of his Autobiography, written toward the end of his life, my father wrote: ‘We feel that the man who brings widespread happiness at the expense of misery to himself is a better man than the man who brings unhappiness to others and happiness to himself. I do not know of any rational ground for this view, or, perhaps, for the somewhat more rational view that whatever the majority desires is preferable to what the minority desires’” (p. 182).

Thus, the so-called argument put forth by atheists is based on the foundation of moral responsibility (for which there is no rational ground (foundation) upon which to build, only “mid-air-hanging”). To the atheistic way, a non-prudent person is just as moral as a prudent person. There is no real, substantive distinction between either. If moral values do not derive their existence from “divine edict”, then their existence is derived from the fluidity of man’s thinking. Is adultery wrong? Why? Because society says so? What difference does it make if society says it’s wrong? Society can just as easily say it is right sometime in the future! Real substance in that!

Katherine Tait saw the emptiness of atheism, and knew it was not for her – at all. She left the empty philosophy and moved to a moral philosophy that is not of this world.  

I Have Learned

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Twenty years ago, I was sitting in my office in Illinois when a brother in Canada asked me if I heard what happened. I had not, so he told me. I quickly went to the television, and was glued there for quite some time, just as many others were.

Since that time the unanimity that once existed between people and political parties has long since vanished. Now we are led by a philosophy that sanctifies homosexuality, kill innocent children, lets people identify just the opposite of how he/she was created, and if unsure of that, they identify as delusional and confused non-sexual. I have also learned that our ruling class allows people, not part of this country, to pore over our national borders with ill-intent on their minds (they deny they do this, but evidence is too stark).

We are a corrupt society led by morally corrupt people – and we vote them into office! We get what we deserve.

What have I learned since 9/11? I have learned that a unified people are not long unified without a common cause. I have also learned that a unified people without a common moral based are a people all over the place concerning right and wrong. I have learned there is no peace, no hope, no liberty, no freedom found in the political machines of people.

Therefore, But he that looketh into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and so continueth, being not a hearer that forgetteth but a doer that worketh, this man shall be blessed in his doing (James 1:25, ASV).

Father’s Day

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Who is dad? Let us consider on this Father’s Day who dad should be.

He is a man of Faith, that is, he is committed to the Lord Jesus and leads his family is the straight and narrow way. For a man who is a husband and father to not do this is to let his family down.

He is a man Assured of his direction in life. When much younger, many boys try to find their way in this world, what do they want to do, how will they make a living, by what philosophy will they live. This is something we all can relate to. Once he finds it, then lands safely on that directive path, he is assured where he is going and how to get there.

He is Thoughtful man. Not too much good can be said about a reactionary man, a person who reacts before thinking. There are times in life when one’s anger boils quickly, but it is during those times when slowness to respond is a matter of prudence and wisdom.

He is a Husband. When one thinks of Father’s Day, the children are to be the love-product of a father and mother, a man who loves and treats his wife as the Lord treats the church, loving and nourishing it.

He is a man who is Error-prone. With the positive qualities mentioned thus far, strange that I would include this negative characteristic, I suppose. Yet, it is very much true. Any man who truly knows himself knows he is a man of many failures. Because of this, going back to faith above, he relies on the Father of Glory to give him strength to carry on.

He is a man who is Reassuring. Just as the Father of Glory gives reassurance to him, so he is reassuring to those of his family that fail in their own responsibilities. More than that, however, he is reassuring with the many that he interacts, encouraging them, correcting them, being firm with them because he wants what is best for them, just as the Father of Glory does for humanity.

Tough to live up to? Not really when you think about the One to whom we must give an account—the Father of Glory. RT

Atheism to Christian

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House to House/Heart to Heart Reaches Charlie
 

I am pleased to introduce myself. I am Charles Lumpkins; feel free to call me Charles or Charlie. I have been on the faculty at Pennsylvania State University since 2006, teaching history-oriented courses in the Department of African American Studies and a writing-intensive history course in my home department, the School of Labor and Employment Relations … I entered the program after working twenty years as a professional librarian.

In spring 2017, a heated discussion ensued in my #AfricanAmericanStudies class over several social-cultural issues of the day. Three or four students said disparaging words about the Bible and Christianity. At that time, I had been a practicing #atheist for at least forty years, and I did not care what the three or four said. Yet I could tell they were uttering talking points out of ignorance. I believed if a person expressed a hatred of a #religion, then he or she should explain the #hatred by pointing to specifics in the sacred text of that religion. But what was worse, despite my upbringing as a Roman Catholic, I was ignorant of the Bible and unable to refer to specific passages in the Bible to correct the students’ misunderstanding.

I decided that I must attend a church Bible study group to learn what the Bible says. I thought of a nondenominational church one of my sisters recommended that had a Bible study group for adults that met on Sundays. I did not go to that church because the Sunday bus schedule was inconvenient. (I owned neither a car nor bicycle.)

More importantly, I felt overwhelmed by my wife Rita’s hospitalization in December 2016 and in March and August 2017. With each hospitalization, the doctors said she was near death. Of course, I used her illness as an excuse not to go to any Bible study. I was challenged to be a caregiver for Rita who became thoroughly exhausted from her ordeal. For several months, she used a four-wheel walker and a cane for mobility and had visiting physical and occupational therapists instruct her on adjusting to her new situation.

In September, I became embroiled in a running family argument over money matters between two of my sisters and one of my brothers and his social worker friend. My sisters abruptly stopped talking to me. Then I fell ill for several days with the flu in October. Being that sick was unusual for me. I felt something—maybe God—was telling me to get serious about attending a Bible study group. I no longer felt that Bible study was an academic exercise but a form of emotional or spiritual healing. I needed to get serious about attending a Bible study.

Early in November, I glanced at an issue of the #HousetoHouse periodical that the State College Church of Christ mailed to residents in my neighborhood. This time I read the issue and noticed the schedule of church worship services and Bible study groups. I decided to attend the Wednesday night Bible study in mid-November. The irony is that I had often walked by that church since I moved to the neighborhood in 2006 and never thought about attending Bible study there until I read that magazine issue.

The men and women in State College Church of Christ Bible study group were very welcoming and curious as to what brought me to the Bible study. I got involved in the study and asked numerous questions. I continued week after week with the study. In retrospect, the members of the group were very patient with me, knowing that I was spiritually a baby inside an adult who desperately wanted to become spiritually matured ASAP.

I became excited about the Bible, but I needed much guidance. In December I invited two married couples, Todd and Tricia and Kelley and Maria, to my apartment where Rita and I could have Bible study with them. I struggled emotionally, feeling awful that I had neglected God for over forty years—forty spiritually wasted years. I started attending Sunday morning worship service at the State College Church of Christ in late December and Sunday evening worship in January 2018. Then I made the plunge—no pun intended—to be baptized in February. By April, I began to participate in Sunday worship service by giving scripture readings and opening and closing prayers and later serving the Lord’s supper and collecting offerings. In time I assisted as a facilitator, not as a teacher, in Bible study sessions on Sundays at the church.

I believed I had to make up for the lost years. Nonetheless, God is patiently guiding me and making sure I pace myself.

Wisdom for New Preachers

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Southeast Institute of Biblical Studies

Karns Church of Christ

May 22nd, 2021

Commencement

What would I tell the graduates of the Southeast Institute of Biblical Studies as they have been prepared for a new journey in their lives?

BACKGROUND: I have served as a preacher in the Lord church since 1989; early on, as one who was self-taught. I served in the USAF, living in NM, Guam, Idaho, and various TDY’s, including Saudi Arabia (Desert Shield). I was an NCO in the Air Force and attended leadership training at the NCOLS (Non-Commissioned Officers Leadership School). After my honorable discharge (1 month shy of 11 years), I enrolled in the East Tennessee School of Preaching and Missions (1993-1995). I was a student at ETSOP just before I turned 33 years old. Life moves rapidly for each of us, now here I am ¾ of the way through my 60th year, 61 around the corner. Decisions of the past are forgotten, and new problems and challenges arrive; experience and wisdom lend a significant hand in helping address them. Hopefully, what I offer will help you minimize problems in your ministry.

From the perspective of a preacher and one who serves as an elder, let me appeal to you to consider the following:

  1. Never allow yourself to be perceived as a threat. Some people, unintentionally perhaps, begin a relationship with another (one or more than one) as a threat. Because of previous experiences, the attitude is adopted, “I am not going to be pushed around by you.” While there may be reasons for this sentiment, when others pick up on it, it immediately puts a gap of uncertainty between two parties. You will be wise to be mindful of this with both the males and females in all contexts. You are not there to change the congregation; you are there to serve them.
  2. Always defer when possible and always be gracious in the deference. When you can defer to the judgment of another, do it. Judgments are opinions; perhaps the judgment of another will work out perfectly, or maybe it won’t. If not, take the high road in your response to another’s judgment that did not work out. Your judgment, also an opinion, may not either.
  3. Earn your pay. Don’t allow the common mockery to be true (“Preachers only work three or four hours a week”). The brethren expect your time in the office to be reflected in your teaching and preaching. They will be able to tell whether you’re using your time wisely. Also, they are expecting you to reflect the life of Christ. If you fail Christ first, it is not long before this failure will be seen by the brethren. RECOMMENDATION: Bible reading 10 Old Testament chapters daily; 15 New Testament chapters daily. Not always easy, but worth the effort.  
  4. You’re not that smart! If you think you are, then a gap is put between you and others. Never compare your knowledge with another. It is expected you’ll be more knowledgeable than most, perhaps all, but if this “I know more than you” attitude presents itself, your time or connection with the brethren is soon over. Moreover, if you present this unseemly attitude, others will seek your fall.
  5. Bible knowledge does not always result in wisdom applied. There is no virtue, in and of itself, in knowing and quoting the Bible. There is much wisdom, however, in living a life of godliness (1 Peter 1:15-16; cf. Ephesians 5:17).
  6. The Lord, His church, your family, then you. The Lord is King of kings, and His church is the holy institution of the saved (Eph. 5:23); your family needs to be among the saved; if not, your effectiveness is minimized. Noah saved his family, but how many did Samuel or David save? After the Lord, your family is your priority. Allow no one to speak ill of your family, but as you defend them (if required), never forget the Lord’s church is His family, do not speak ill of any (Colossians 4:5-6). In your family and in the Lord’s family, be sure you take the crumbs, not the main course.
  7. You’re on a team, not the QB. If the brethren trust you, then you have earned the right to be regarded as a leader. Never forget you are on the Lord’s team, not your own. The Lord is the Head Coach, Quarter Back, and Upper Management. You are an equal in leadership with the elders of the congregation. They oversee the work of the congregation and the spiritual health of the members; your role in leadership is not minimized, only slightly different.
  8. I only lock my office when the saints meet to prevent wanderers from wandering about when not necessary, otherwise, I never lock my office but am an open book with the elders. While its possible there are private matters in your office that no others are to see, I trust those who have a key to the building. I want the elders to have a key to my office. I invite them to come in and look around when I am not in the office, look at my desk calendar, check up on my work. They may or may not do that, but knowing you are open to it allows them to take an extra step in the direction complete trust. If you are struggling with private failings, address them quickly. As required, allow your wife to help; if necessary, involve the elders. Embarrassing? Probably, but better than the alternative.
  9. Reputation and character. Reputation is what people think of you, character is what you are. People may oppose you and, in their opposition, some may lie about you. This was done to Jesus, expect no less. Be sure, however, their accusations are not true in the eyes of the Lord.
  10. People follow you; you had better be right! Because of your position, your knowledge, and your reputation; people tend to follow others they trust. Knowing this will help you. Because this is so, be sure you are right (1 Corinthians 11:1). If not, get things right with the Lord or Matthew 15:14 applies. Even if you are right, deflect all attention to the Lord, for you are following Him.
  11. Respond, don’t react. When you are startled, your response/reaction to what surprised may not be the same as when you “saw it coming.” In my mind there is a difference. To react is to respond without thinking, perhaps flying off the handle (so to speak). For some this is a standard operating procedure. People don’t want to be around those who react without thinking. When you respond, your response is more thoughtful; it can still be wrong, but it’s not a reaction. If you have a temper problem your struggles will be greater than one who does not have one.
  12. You don’t have career; you have a way of life. You are not preaching so you can reach retirement age, you are preaching so you can serve the Lord. If you lose sight of this, then who are you serving? This is not a criticism of retirement, but a criticism of focus.

Below are additional thoughts of respected men.  

  1. Don’t underestimate how people will view you. It is so very unfair, but preachers (and their families) are held to a different standard than any other member of the congregation including the Elders. Sometimes those opinions [from members of the church] will be shared with you, many times they will not, but they do have an impact on your effectiveness in your work. Be conscious of your social media postings and evaluate how they may be viewed by those in and out of the church. Your clothing, hobbies, expenses, social interaction, overall lifestyle will all be under the microscope. Just realize that and understand that ignoring that reality will do your work more harm than fighting the unfairness of it will help you (Charles Hill, elder, Lubeck Church of Christ, Parkersburg, WV).
  2. Show love in everything you do. You can do a lot of things wrong and if people know you are doing it out of love, they will forgive you; you can do things right but if they feel you are motivated by anything other than love, they will find ways to believe what you are doing is wrong. Love is NOT a feeling but an action and putting everyone else ahead of oneself requires a whole lot of discipline. Every successful evangelist I have ever known came off as loving and caring long before they were recognized as a speaker or preacher. I know of two who are excellent as teachers in one-on-one situations even though their speaking ability would have to be rated as sub-standard (speech impediment, organization of thoughts prior to talking (Don Chandler, former elder Lenoir City).
  3. One thing I have seen wrong with some preachers is their complaint, “That’s not what I am paid for.”  Menial tasks are sometimes meaningful tasks.  Also, while preachers are not “pastors,” their work will often be pastoring, in caring for the flock. You are right to warn about social media. It’s a trap that should be avoided (David Pharr, preacher/elder, Rock Hill, SC).  

Closing thoughts: There are many things to add to this list, but these are things I think might be helpful in starting out. I included the thoughts of men who serve or have served as elders. The elders where I live concur with these remarks. Ask another preacher, perhaps his list will be different. It might be different for you when you reach my age and experience in local work. In the end, be sure to live by 2 Peter 3:18 and 2 Timothy 2:24-26.

Chosen and Foreknowledge

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The foreknowledge of God is a difficult teaching of Scripture for one to have an accurate understanding. The meaning of the word is not difficult to understand, but how can God have foreknowledge, and, at the same time, people have free will? Does not the foreknowledge of God guarantee a person will do a certain thing if the Lord sees him do it in the future?

I appreciate the difficulty some people have with this, but I guess I never struggled with the same difficulty.

In 1 Peter 1:1-2, the Lord’s will makes clear those chosen to salvation are in relation to the foreknowledge of God. How does this work?

God sees as far in the future as man will have existence; He sees as far in the past as man had existence. However, God is not constrained by time; humanity measures many things by time, thus the clock on our walls and the days / weeks of the month. God is always in the present; that is why in Exodus 3 and John 8, the Lord was able to identify Himself as “I am,” not “I was” or “I will be.”

Foreknowledge with God is a perspective we have as we seek to understand His comprehensive knowledge with respect to all human history, behind and before us. Foreknowledge does not apply to God; with the Lord, He is already there. In the year 2525, if man is still alive, God is there now.

Even before one reads of the fall in Genesis 3, the Lord looked down through the history of man and saw how each and every person would respond to His will, including His invitation to respond to the Lord Jesus. He saw that you freely chose to obey His will when the Lord Jesus gave His invitation (as in Matthew 11:28-30). As the Lord looked and saw the choice you made, it can be properly said that He chose you for salvation (cf. Rom. 8:29). RT

How We Learn

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Subtitle: KNOWLEDGE IS GAINED

Amy Peikoff, Law Professor, posted on Parler (a social media platform, like Twitter), “[T]he things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them, e.g., men become builders by building and lyre-players by playing the lyre; so too we become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts” (Aristotle: Nichomachean Ethics).

The words of the renown philosopher certainly have a ring of truth; experiences tell us as much. While learning come by experience, it also comes an additional way. Before something can be done, one must learn about that which he is going to build or play. In a similar way, before one knows how to administer justice, exercise a temperate disposition, and even be brave in some situations, he (and she) must know what these qualities of life are and how to implement them.

One’s ability to know comes from where? There are only two sources by which we come to know something. In the natural realm, we come to know things by experience with those material things in our world. A second source by which we come to know something is from outside of our human experience, that is, information comes to us from a Source greater than us. In the case of the Lord, this Source of information interacts with us in our material Universe.

In the natural realm, we come to know things because the Lord created within us the ability to think and discern, we pay attention to those material things we experience. In other words, the mind (brain) generates a logical analysis (or connection) to things in our material world which brings us to conclude this or that about it.

In biblical matters, we take a similar approach. No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him: and I will raise him up in the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall all be taught of God. Every one that hath heard from the Father, and hath learned, cometh unto me (John 6:44-45). The Lord expected those of His day to learn from what had been written, from a Source greater than the man who put pen to paper (Moses). We gain knowledge by learning and considering the connection between the words written by the One who spoke them and the relation to that which about which He spoke. In Acts 17:11, the truth-seekers in Berea were considered honorable because they compared what Paul spoke with what the Lord wrote.

Information (knowledge) comes from a teacher who teaches you, and you learn. Now it came to pass, while the multitude pressed upon him and heard the word of God, that he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret (Luke 5.1). It comes from objects that leave an impression on/with you. But Simon Peter, when he saw it, fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord (Luke 5.1-8). It comes by what a person reads. “…how that by revelation was made known unto me the mystery, as I wrote before in few words, whereby, when ye read, ye can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ” (Ephesians 3:3-4). It comes from our response to experiences with objects. And amazement took hold on all, and they glorified God; and they were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to-day (Luke 5.26). It comes from the mind being creative and forming its own impressions. But Jesus perceiving their reasonings, answered and said unto them, Why reason ye in your hearts? (Luke 5.22).

Sometimes, the information we have is not properly analyzed or interpreted for it to be called knowledge, that is, something based on facts; instead, it’s an opinion based on a response to information seen, heard, or read. It’s up to each of us to do something with it; will we pursue to gain more information, or will we be satisfied with what little we learned? It was Paul who wrote about the Source of the knowledge he had, impressing upon the church at Ephesus this admonition, “Wherefore be ye not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17).

FALL INTO THE PIT

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Our political environment is very discouraging. Not only do we have in the WH an administration standing opposed to the Lord, but taking a more aggressive stand against the foundation of this country, built on the Judeo-Christian ethic, something liberals and progressives oppose.

Newsmax Magazine published a “sign of the times” piece (p. 66) in their March 2021 issue. In a survey of “1,000 pastors of evangelical and historically black churches” 90% said they believe “events do appear to be lining up” with what Jesus said in Matthew 24.

When the Lord returns, there are no signs. In the context of the Lord’s second coming, He said this, “But of that day and hour knoweth no one, not even the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only” (Matthew 24:36). Paul, giving attention to the same thing, wrote this, “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night” (1 Thess. 5:2).

A thief does not let others know when he plans to invade and steal that which belong to you!

The section of Matthew 24 that deals with “signs of the times” concern the Lord’s destruction of Jerusalem, not His second coming. The disciples asked about signs, Jesus pointed them to that which He referred, something that would happen within the lifetime of those listening to Him. “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all these things be accomplished” (24:34). What is “this generation”? This refers to the people to whom He spoke, not a generation that exists 2,000 years later!

We live in a religious time of uncertainty. Like Justice Taney who ruled in favor of keeping an ethnic people in slavery (he ruled they were not citizens of the United States), the infamous Democrat’s spirit exists in the hearts of many today, the slavery is only different. Because there are such people, Christians needs to shore up their faith, trusting in the Lord (cf. Pro. 3:5), and prepare for when He does come. He will not, however, gives signs to point to His coming.  

The Newsmax survey points to a lack of knowledge amongst the “1,000 pastors”.

Jesus said about the religious teachers of His day who presented themselves as knowing the will of the Lord, “Let them alone: they are blind guides. And if the blind guide the blind, both shall fall into a pit” (Matt. 15:14).

Are you a man?

Years ago, when I was a little boy, I learned a most important lesson from my dad. I failed miserably times without number. On one occasion of my many failings, my dad kept his voice low (so mom would not hear) and tore into me. I was 17.

As much as I thought I was smart, I quickly learned I did not have what I thought I had. I was not a man.

What is a man? Is he a male who exercises and lifts weights (I do), but that does not make a man, not even close. Is he one who stands projecting an authoritative disposition? I learned hard lessons along this line also and I have seen many do this and fail to be a man. Is he young and strong and able to handle any threat that comes his way physically? Whatever value there is in that, that is not a man.

A man is one who is sure of his purpose, knows where he is going, how to get there and who to rely on to take him there. More than that, he is one who leads his family in the direction he is going (something that can be far more difficult that one realizes). That is the man I want to be and that is the man I intend on being. Mind you, I have had my struggles staying on the path set forth for me by the Lord. Knocked off, I tremble, but I get back on. What else can I do?

Paul said to the Corinthians, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong” (1 Cor. 16:13, ASV). We live in unsettled times. There are Christians who have voted for people who are currently in public office who are doing what they can to take away liberties belonging to citizens of this country.

Inch by inch.

There are Christians more aligned with a political party than they are the Lord’s virtuous ways. They would rather see one political party in office than vote for that other political party!

“I can’t stand them! They are not for the working man.”

“Oh, really? Though this is a lie, you would rather see innocent children killed in the womb because of this lie you’ve bought in to?”

Inch by inch.

Be strong, be a man.

HARD ON PREACHERS

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“What do you expect from your preacher?”

“Well, I expect him to preach twice on Sunday, teach a Bible class on Wednesday, spend five hours each day in the office, five days a week.”

“What kind of sermons do you want him to preach?”

“His sermons need to be of the type that encourages us in this dark and depressing world in which we are currently living. I am afraid that if he preaches too much negativity, he will drive people away.”

“What if he were to preach like Jeremiah preached?”

“Oh no! To do that is sure to drive some of our members away, and certainly those who come visiting from the community. Both will wonder if there is any good in this world! Preaching like Jeremiah may have its place, but too much of it is counter-productive to the growth of the church.”

“So, you think the Lord was mistaken when He had Jeremiah do what he did?”

“Not mistaken, but perhaps there could have been a better way.”

*****

What kind of preacher do you want? What kind of preacher does the Lord want? As a preacher there are many who interpret what he does to be a life of ease or, if not ease, not so much strain like ordinary people in life experience. The preacher does not work very much, some think; he works only an hour or two each day to put Bible class lessons together and prepare two sermons. Because he does not work that much, he has time to do many other things; perhaps he can coach youths in a sport, be a part of the local community in some outreach way, surely his hours in the evening are made able to us who might have to call on him to help us in times of trouble and anxiety; his family understands and, if they don’t, why are they so selfish?

How hard can all this be?

Maybe you don’t think this way. I hope that is the case. On the other hand, if you do, you can’t be more wrong. One of the best ways to get an appreciation for what a preacher does is to study the words and life of Jeremiah (and Paul). Jeremiah’s words (above) give a small indication of what a preacher must deal with. In Jeremiah 6, the Lord’s preacher (prophet) was called upon by the Lord to preach a message of warning to those who aligned themselves on the Lord’s side.

Though they aligned themselves on the Lord’s side, the Lord looked at their alignment and saw they were terribly out of alignment! Unfortunately for them, they deceived themselves into thinking all was well, so when Jeremiah preached the Lord’s warning of an invading army, they refused to accept the fact the Lord would send a heathen people against the city of David. The Lord’s patience ran out (Jer. 6:11).

The people of Jerusalem (and the surrounding area) had no time for the Lord’s preacher and message (6:10); the young and old were greedy for gain (6:13) and there is no wonder to this approach because the governmental leaders, the religious leaders, and people of affluence—it was all about what they could get; it mattered not at whose expense. The preachers and the priests of the religious community were especially called out by the Lord’s prophet. They proclaimed that all is well, when nothing was well at all. It was like they looked at the physical body, saw no wounds, then judged the body to be perfectly healthy. They looked at their community the same way. If there was physical sickness, they would yell, “Quarantine, Quarantine!” (Lev. 13-15), never thinking about the pitifully poor health tearing up their spiritual well-being. They were soon to find out the Lord’s remedy for the spiritually failed diagnosis.

But before they were to experience that, the Lord called them to come back to the old paths (6:16); they would find rest for their souls, their spiritual health would be much better because the Lord’s “balm of Gilead” would heal when applied to their heart (mind) and body, the Lord would protect them. They did not want to listen to the Lord’s watchman (6:17), so the Lord was going to apply a surgical procedure to the land and tend to matters how He wanted to; it was not going to go well for them (6:18-21).

This was the message of the Lord’s preacher to the City of David. Does that appear to be an easy message to carry? It doesn’t to me. The preacher is very much aware the message he preaches is going to affect the lives of so many; he knows the lives of the many affected, that their lives turn for the good; he also knows (as Jeremiah knew) that stubbornness and the slowness of response will turn out for them in such a way that it can only be interpreted as disastrous and heart-breaking. 

If a preacher is any good at what he does, he spends an inordinate amount of time in preparation to know the Lord’s word, gain an understanding of it, make application to it, then help others do the same. Years ago, while on the golf course in Illinois, a young man told me as he was in a Methodist Seminary his preparation for his class that quarter was to read a number of books. I asked him about the Bible as a text book. I was disappointed in his response. This Methodist Seminary student could help a person understand many things, but not the Bible.

In Jeremiah 6:13, the Lord was especially hard on the preachers. They dealt falsely because they had no knowledge of His will. Those who did have knowledge, they took that knowledge and used it for their own purposes. Be not many of you teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment (James 3:1). RT