Category Archives: Quest for Truth

Seeking the truth about God, the bible, and faith.

Quest for Truth 135 Peace, Joy, and Hope

In something of a solo episode, Keith reviews a message of hope for those who have found the true way into God’s grace. Nathan can’t be live in the studio, but he has a few thougts on the topic recorded for us. Keith shuffles them in as we turn to the upbeat words found in Romans 5:1-11.

But first, in a short segment on meeting the hosts, Keith reminds folks to watch for the guest appearance Nathan made on the Old Time Superman podcast. By the time this show is posted, their 1000th episode should be available. Also to get ready for the launch of our very own original audio drama, Dangerous Christian. Production is well underway, and our first episode will be here before you know it. Tell your friends, and be sure to support the project on Nathan’s Patreon page, leave a rating and review, and encourage us to keep the shows coming.

Main Topic

In presenting the message in Romans 5:1-11, Keith shares some key words, and uses Matthew henry’s commentary to add some good news that has stood the test of time. Nathan reads the scripture, and interweaves his own ideas on the meaning of such foundational concepts as being justified, having faith, and the hope of God’s eternal grace to those who believe.

To be clear, we have peace once we are justified, a price that can only be paid by Jesus. Believing that fact, we are given the faith of the HolySpirit, who fills us. Actually if we bring anything to the table, it’s not belief, it’s a burden of guilt, sin, and shame.

This faith gives an admission ticket to God’s grace. A grace wherre he’s pleased with us. No wrath. His judgement is only for those who refuse to recognize sin in their lives, those who see no shame in it, or for whatever reason they see no burden of guilt with sin. Having access to God’s grace is always a reason to rejoice and celebrate.

When sin is removed, covered, paid in full by the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross, we have hope. An expectation where we can be confident in eternal matters.

There’s a proof for our faith. Suffering, or troubles, or the pressures in life. As the pressure is turned up, we see the depth of hardship our God can deliver us out of. The deeper the trial, the more our faith is strengthened, the more we experience firsthand how secure this expectant, confident hope reaches. God sees no shame or disgrace in enduring this kind of hoe, or the tests we go through to get it. There’s no shame in God’s love, or in the Holy Spirit who fills us.

The ultimate image of love is portrayed in how Christ died for us. Not after we did something, or cleaned up our act. He loved us enough to die, when all we could do was bring him our sin, and immorality.

Nathan wraps up by reading a parallel passage, 1 Corinthians 15:12-20. Sin isn’t just some kind of filth, or dirt that can be washed offf. Jesus refers to it as leaven. Think of how leaven works by permiating to every part of a lump of dough. Only sin is a leaven that pollutes. Nothing tastey, or good about it. Not something that is washed from the surface, but is shot through our character.

That’s the power that the justification from jesus has. Hope. Admission to grace. Time to rejoice.

In closing, our Retrobots share a thought of the week.

Quest for Truth 134 Superman, Zombies, and the Secular Age

Getting right to the topics at hand we go right into our usual segments.

Meet the Hosts.

Life in Church House Studios has been pretty routine, except our new addition, a year old kitten, has proven himself to be an alarm cat. Nathan revisits the audio drama projects he’s been doing. Script writing, and posting a few new shows on his other podcast feeds.

For Superman fans, be sure to check out a guest appearance on the Old Time Superman show for their 1000th episode. He’ll be joining the host, Adam Graham, and others to talk about the 1940’s radio show. We spend a little time with our own ideas about the iconic super hero before we move things along.

Main Topic.

Are you ready for zombies? So were we. The trouble is that other than our title, we spend very little time discussing them. The misleading title was what lured Keith into reading a book. It turns out to have little to do about the walking dead, but it addresses why people today love apocalyptic things. It also uses popular movies and TV shows with apocalyptic things to illustrate how our society of the Secular Age got to where we are today.

Four key steps describe, or they try to, how culture shifted away from God based morality, to human based morality. First some background, and comparison.

Religion vs Secular Humanism

Before the Modern Secular Age.

Humanity is porous. Individuals find their identity by participating in their group. Individuals are influenced by relating to, and with others. All this give and take, and mutual influence requires a framework of morality outside the self. Religion or government. To be inside this framework, the claim is the individual is limited in self expression. To be outside the framework of this morality is to be cast off as either a beast, or a barbarian. God is seen as creator, the giver of an initial grace that’s instilled in us at birth, and an ongoing grace that keeps us in the system, and offers explanation to the mysteries of the universe.

After the Modern Secular Age

Humanity is buffered. The individual has an imaginary, buffer, or a coating, or a protective bubble where they are immune to the influences of others. The individual doesn’t need outside influence, since science now offers rational, natural explanations to the mysteries of our universe. Individuals can flourish on their own, without the need to fit into a confining structured like religion. Sure, it’s still there, but is now compartmentalized, and it’s not the main framework of morality. As far as morality, there is no greater good outside the buffered individual.

With just this background, there are so many things wrong with this new, buffered, identity. It assumes that the structure of religion is man made, and that human interaction and relationships are entirely detrimental. . The claim is that’s better to use science, an outside factor, to allow the buffered person to make their own moral choices. It’s all about the uninfluenced choices.

Science may do a fine job in explaining our observable world, but the one thing it can never do is make a moral judgement. If moral choices are left to the Individual, there’s no way to determine moral choices with science alone. With all choices having equal weight in importance, then none of them can be determined to be more moral than another. People need interaction with an outside standard to let them know if they’re achieving anything. Therefore the buffered existence is an illusion that can only hope to work, when adequate outside standards, or morality, is imposed. This view point fails by making too many false assumptions, and claims to truth that have no foundation or evidence. It relies on outside influences for information, and any real moral standard is meaningful only with an outside standard. In fact, all this ideology proves to be the opposite in the real world. Solitary isolation is the worst thing that can happen. It’s a punishment, not a means to flourish.

The anthropocentric Shift… Huh?

That’s just a big word that means a “Humanity Centered” shift.

The 4 steps.

1. It’s Not about transcendence,

I know, more big words. Transcendence. Being beyond the limits of our experience. Beyond comprehension. Having universal application, or significance.

In brief, if we can’t experience it directly, it doesn’t exist, or it doesn’t apply. God, being a transcendent being, means that our only duty to God is that we achieve our own good, and help one another. This step also means there’s no universal or absolute truth.

Nathan has lots of challenges to this claim, since too much of it relies on the untrustworthy claim made about the porous person vs the buffered person. People need other people. Any real moral standard has to come from outside the buffer zone of any individual, if only to agree with other individuals on the outside moral standard. That’s how families, tribes, nations, and governments figure out what laws to make.

It’s great to seek self improvement, and to play well with others.
But you excel at this when you’re the porous human, not the buffered human. People need contact with other people. A buffered life is an illusion that can only exist in the reality of complex support systems, provided in the reality of porous humanity.

2. As buffered selves we no longer need ongoing grace.

The distinction between initial and ongoing grace needs to be clarified. Ongoing grace relates to the need for religious order, a matter which the people of the Secular Age claim they don’t need. Why? Because science tells us how things in nature work. The problem of sin, morality, and the need for salvation is left for the buffered person to give value to, throwing God’s grace back at him.

What’s the initial grace? The inborn logic, intellect, and rational thought we have to comprehend the world. This kind of grace is enough to achieve human good. It’s all we need for any form of self discipline. God may exist, and have created order, but he left the universe to let it wind down, and for people to discover its marvels. Besides, if someone is unfaithful, then god stands at the end of history to judge, or accept them with joy.

Again, there are so many unproven statements in this step. Not to mention the contradiction of the self reliant nature of a buffered person, yet readily accepting the outside influence of science. Possibly because it’s a safe intrusion that merely observes facts, and leaves moral interpretation to the whim of the individual. But if the buffered person allows for the existence of God, and his role to fairly judge, wouldn’t it be important to know what his standard is that he’ll be using on that day at the end of history? Hint: it’s not based on “good enough”, it’s based on “perfection.”

People in the Secular Age seem to reject traditions, and long defined terminology. However, the “initial grace” is explained eerily similar to the religious concept of being made in “God’s image.” We have a body, soul, and mind, because that’s God’s image he puts on us. We have the logical rational thoughts to discover and enjoy his universe. The buffered person may admit God exists, created, and set systems in place, but the difference is that person thinks God made it and left it. The religious person claims God is still actively part of it. Hey, he sure seemed to be in it pretty actively, until the last century or so. Is it really God who left, or the thoughts of humans who left him?

One troubling point is the resignation that if God exists, he’ll clear it all up at the end of history. Wow, that’s a big gamble. The judge already knows your deeds. All arguments, appeals, or hope of mercy is off. Your deeds are what they are. There’s no changing them. Would you go into a court of law in this world, with all your charges before the judge, and be totally unprepared? How would a judge react to a plea of, “I didn’t know. I didn’t think that was a law. I didn’t mean it. Nobody told me…” or any such excuses.. How much more so, the judge of the universe? It’ll be a day of just decisions, no mercy, and fair treatment. Are your deeds good enough? Will that punishment really be fair? Will it really be forever? Now is the time to find out. Hint: They are far from it. It will be fair. Forever is a huge gamble, but evidence in biblical worldview is that it will be for eternity.

We start to run low on time, but we press forward to squeeze in the final two points.

3. The Sense of mystery fades when the world is disenchanted.

What? Mystery? Disenchantment? For a science based, logical proposition, this almost sounds supernatural. What it means is that without science, there’s a lot in nature that seems mysterious, and unexplainable. Strange or powerful forces in nature had been attributed to various gods, or considered miraculous. The buffered, secular person claims that all unexpected things in nature can be explained. Certainly we still love to explore the world, and there’s much left to explore and discover. God does not routinely reach down and do miracles. If he did, we’d think it was irrational and irresponsible of him.

The universe is certainly a place of wonder. At least the Secular Age people admit that. Science has indeed explained many things, and will find even more interesting things. Still, there is no morality in all this knowledge. What about explaining miracles with science? We give some examples with the Israelites being set free from Egypt. Some claim earthquakes made a land bridge to appear, then disappear at the convenient time to let a few million people cross, but not the pursuing army. Plagues like turning water to blood is supposed to be from mud slides of red clay, giving a blood like appearance. Explainable. But not in matters of the timing, or the placed, or the placement of the people who had the need, at that time, for that duration of time, when they were already walking in a path where the situation could easily have been avoided. For all the convenient earthquakes, mud slides, or explainable events, the timing is too convenient for such natural explanations to hold up when you consider all that took place at the deliverance of the Israelites. The events in the Bible narrative are plentiful, and to have convenient earthquakes, or natural events happening exactly when a people in need have them happen is just too much to not consider a supernatural element.

4. The purposes of Faith based activity has changed.

It was once taken for granted as a centerpiece of faith, that god planned on transforming human beings beyond the limitations of the human condition. . Now we see the practices of religion, prayer, devotion, etc, as a means to bring about human flourishing. To have a “Theistic rationality”.

What does that mean? Humans used to think religious activity changed us, and made us into better people. ]That doing religious stuff is what transformed us, and how we got to heaven.

Now people consider it just helps to think rationally about God. It’s nice to help us be good humans, but that’s all. It’s OK to think about God as creator, but all that supernatural, afterlife stuff is no longer thought real. Even if there is an after life, we’d be a lot like we are now, but without some of the more painful and awkwardness.

Nathan can agree, we’d be less awkward, and painful than we are, but the rest is a lot of assumptions. It still doesn’t explain what level of morality will ensure people end up in eternal bliss, and who will be sent away in judgement. It’s also more a matter of people changing their minds about God, not him revoking any of his eternal purposes.

What is God’s purpose for man? The age old doctrine is that man’s purpose is to glorify God, and enjoy him forever. There’s no mumbo jumbo about self fulfillment, or choosing to make him optional, or invent an imaginary concept that you hold as truth.

By now, our time has been up, and we don’t have Time to give better attention to this last step. It relies on too many assumptions, not facts. Too many assumptions in the earlier, basic steps are not even circular, they’re statements with no proof or evidence They make a claim of ffantasy, but have no proof, and their only supports are imaginary. The idea of a solitary, buffered person goes against the basic nature of reproducing life. The worst punishment that can be given a person in jail is to be in solitary confinement. To be the ideal buffered person then, is to impose self inflicted solitary confinement.

How can this ideology be good? It relies heavily on the porous kind of humanity for life support, and knowledge gathering from outside the buffered self, then withdraws into a fantasy world, outside of reality to play a dangerous game of, “what if.”
. It leads to serious problems, mental and moral instability, and an illusion of freedom.

We close with a thought of the week. As always, if you feel we need to cover this topic better, or a point in it that we glossed over, or forgot, let us know. We always want to be fair in representing ideas that are not our own. If there’s a topic you want us to discuss, whether it’s a troublesome bible passage, or a world view, or world event, let us know. We love hearing from you.

Quest for Truth 133 Bible Survey 15: Miracles and Signs of Jesus

Some last moment slip ups find us on a different topic than planned. Not that anybody would notice, other than I just said so. We fall back on our ongoing Bible Survey. The actual next installment was #14, The Word Became Flesh. However, we already covered this in 97 An Unrecognized Christmas Gift, a solo episode where Nathan shared a sermon.

Before we move on to installment 15, we start with our usual segment…

Meet the Hosts

There’s not much new happening around Church House studios. Chris is in the building, but doesn’t join us due to getting ready for a followup doctor appointment. Just routine stuff. Dealing with dead computers means shuffling how things get done behind the scene in our recording process. Nothing major, and again, something the listener might never know if it wasn’t shared. It just means extra editing to get the show ready.

Nathan has been busy with his various audio productions. Casting calls are getting results, and some work is being done in turning scripts into audio. Stand by for developments as we draw closer to a launch date for our project, Dangerous Christian. Support us by being part of the launch, telling people about it, sharing on social media, and supporting it through Nathan’s Patreon page.

Main Topic: Bible Survey 15 Miracles and Signs of Jesus.

The gospels are full of them, but as a sample, the survey lands on two important situations. A paralyzed man who was healed when his sins were forgiven, and a woman who was healed on the Sabbath. Why are those things significant? Let’s have a look.

Matthew 9:1-8 (ESV)

1 And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city.
2 And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”
3 And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.”
4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?
5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?
6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—”Rise, pick up your bed and go home.”
7 And he rose and went home.
8 When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.

First, the paralyzed man was brought to Jesus, probably by some of his friends. Jesus saw their faith in him. He encouraged them. Sin was often attributed to disabilities in ancient times, and Jesus made the simple statement that his sins were forgiven.

Scribes who were present claimed that it was blasphemy to forgive sin. They were correct. Forgiving sin is something only God can do. For a mere man to make such a claim is indeed a blasphemy. God never interacts with humans, unless a prophet comes to pave the way, and signs are involved. The scribes are about to get their proof.

Whether the scribes actually muttered words out loud or not, Jesus knew what evil attitudes were in their hearts. He made it plain where the power of his claim came from. He didn’t just give lip service by making an empty claim. He asked them what kind of evidence it would take to prove his authority. Is it easier to
Talk the talk, or to have the man be healed on the spot?

Without waiting for an answer, Jesus told the man to get up, walk, and go home. The man did it.

Did the scribes believe? It doesn’t say, but they had the evidence they required to believe. What kind of evidence do you need? How much evidence will it take to meet your own requirements?

We take a short break, and share a glimpse of our upcoming audio drama, Dangerous Christian.

Next, we look at Luke 13:10-17 (ESV).

10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath.
11 And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself.
12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.”
13 And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God.
14 But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.”
15 Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it?
16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?”
17 As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.

The setting. Jesus was in the temple. A woman was in the temple. Neither were there especially to be healed, but Jesus saw her, and healed her.

  • He told her she was healed.
  • He layed hands on her, and her bent back straightened.
  • She praised and glorified God.

Simple, right? A beautiful act of releasing a woman from her long years of suffering.

What’s the problem then? The head religious leader got himself bent out of shape because the healing was seen as work. The Sabbath was to be a day where no work was to be done. The day had become more holy to him than the act of doing good. Through Jesus, god worked a blessing of relief to this woman.

Jesus is always the most critical to those who claim to be his people. The Sabbath is an important day, a sacred day, but one that God makes certain allowances for. If the priest had thought before he spoke, he would realize that the Sabbath was not a day of rest for those serving in the temple. Care for animals was a necessity, which Jesus pointed out.

If work, or perceived work is to be done, at least make it work that blesses. Animals are blessed when they get fed, or untied, or otherwise tended to. Why is it any less a blessing if a person is healed, and released from their burden?

Bottom line. As believers, we get bogged down in the exercise of practicing religion, we can miss what God intends for us. Our meetings, or programs, or systems take priority, and can’t be interrupted, even at the chance that God wants to extend a blessing from a direction we hadn’t been looking.

Whether being an unbeliever, as with the scribe, or a priest whose intent was to defend the faith, but nearly missed out, we know that Jesus has authority to perform such signs and miracles. He has the authority, because he is the physical presence of God to interact with humans. There are two proofs to know that Jesus is who he claimed to be, believe his teaching. If you can’t believe the words he said about himself, then believe the signs he did.

Whether you’re the skeptical, naturalistic person who doesn’t believe in miracles and anything resembling the supernatural, or you’re the kind who is willing to take the reports in the gospel at face value, there is plenty of evidence to believe. The real question then is, how much evidence do you need? Life is full of unanswered questions, and times where we need to fill in the blanks on our own to make a decision. We make decisions every day, based on fragments of information. If we do this for the mundane things in life, why not make a decision about eternal matters?

To wrap up, we share a few closing thoughts of the week.

Quest for Truth 132 Amoral Science and Organized Religion

Trying to squeeze in as much as possible, we get right to our segment… right after a small glitch from the Retrobots.

Meet the Hosts

Our long in coming audio drama is getting closer. The first scripts are done, and several parts assigned. The only drawback remaining is in waiting for our volunteer voice actors to return their parts, so everything can be compiled. Watch for more word, and a launch date. Be sure to tell your friends, and for contributors through Nathan’s Patreon page, we have plans for interviews, behind the scenes stuff, and chat room sessions with the cast.

We never ask for monetary support for this podcast, but the audio drama involves a lot more effort, and a recurring contribution through Patreon will encourage us to devote more attention to future projects like our unassuming, everyday kind of super hero.

Our main topic really isn’t all that long. It’s a role play type of episode, and it can be difficult to give a topic the depth it deserves, when the ideas expressed aren’t your own. Besides, Keith lost his notes to guide him along, and had to wing It from memory. To allow ourselves to go down a bunny trail, we include the problem of why science makes a faulty platform for discussing topics in a public forum.

The language of science has become the only accepted and recognized way to prove a point, or settle an argument in public settings, or even in discussing morality.

The good point in science is that it tells us what a thing is, how it works, and what affect it might have on its environment. But it has shortcomings. The problem with science is it can’t answer the question “why.” It can’t determine morality.

For example:

  • It can identify an object, like a hand gun by observing it.
  • It can point out how the parts work, where the bullets go, and the mechanism that ends with a firing pin striking the cartridge.
  • It can describe the chemical process that occurs, and how expanding gasses push the projectile out the end of the barrel.
  • It can also tell what might happen at the point of impact where the projectile lands.
  • An experiment might even be practiced to verify and demonstrate the hypothesis discussed to this point.

Science can not make a moral judgement of whether we should use a paper target, a tin can, a lab rat, or your neighbor’s head. Strictly speaking, science can only describe that a destructive event will happen. It can’t place any value on the object being tested in the experiment. It can’t say why it might be morally wrong to pull the trigger that sets off the process.

All science can do is state that pulling the trigger will end up in a destructive event. It’s left outside of science to determine whether the target has any value or not.

We point back to a solo episode done last March, 107 ASSURANCE OF SALVATION that includes an essay Keith wrote titled, The Purpose of Man without God. An attempt at exploring the shortcomings of worldly knowledge, pleasure, or power, and who gets to say where morality comes from.

Our role play runs short, as expected, and any misrepresenting was unintended. Please contact us if you feel we didn’t do well at it, or have a more rounded argument for us to address.

The statement of: Why I hate organized religion is brought up.

For starters, what does that mean anyway?

In Doing research, most results were from religious people giving apologetic reasons why its a bad statement. It doesn’t make any logical sense. Another result was from a foreign language forum, where people there tried to figure out this nonsense statement. They had no words for it in their own language. One blogger who had been against the so called organized religion, but came to grips with the fact that those in her activist groups weren’t making any sense. Was it being organized that her friends were against? Was it religion they were against? That blogger found merit in religion to support her cause. Even Wikipedia commented that the term is meaningless of itself. By definition, religion is organized. Exactly the same as government is organized, a business is organized, sports teams are organized, and so forth.

Finally I managed to find a discussion of people who held this ideology. And our role play begins.

The core issue is a little confusing. People hate organized religion. They love religion, but don’t want to be confined by any one religion. Huh?

People feel it’s OK to pick and choose, treating all the world religions as equal, and have no problem walking down the buffet table of ideas, taking a morsel of what looks good onto their plate, and leaving the rest. A little here, and a little there, mix and matching fragmented doctrines to build their own special plate full of… disorganized religion?

Another defining feature in this crowd is they are fine with religious matters, they just don’t want you to force your morality on them. Nathan points out that those people are often quick to force their own moral judgements on others who they perceive are in disagreement with them. At the best, even if they don’t, and they are passively left to set their own morality, eventually they run the risk of meeting up with someone who may have low morals, is bigger and stronger than them, and force them into a subservient lifestyle.

To wrap up, we share a closing thought where the Retrobots make an appearance.

Quest for Truth 131 A World of Materialism

In an earlier solo installment, the topic of worldview was the focus. There were five major ones that challenge a biblical worldview, and today we give a brief look at another. To see the others, with a summary of each, and the book that inspired the episodes, check out Secular: What in the World Is It?

Before we begin, our long lost co-host has returned.

Meet the Hosts

Nathan gets us caught up with a project that’s near and dear to our hearts. Our audio drama production of a modern day, low key kind of hero is underway. Casting calls are being responded to, and if you want to be part of it, it isn’t too late. Nathan is taking requests, but feel free to drop me a line, and I’ll forward your inquiry.

Summer camps have been a success, both for the one Nathan went to, and one we are involved with. Lots of kids and adults having fun in the Summer sun.

Time is of a premium so we turn to the main topic.

First, we touch on a hot button topic or two. Namely those regarding the recent racial tensions, and some challenges that face bringing a Christian message into the mix. I hope it doesn’t come across as being one sided, but this is a topic that was intended to cover several weeks ago, but we never quite got it to the table.

What does it mean when we use words like racist, or bigot? More often than not those labels get used without actually knowing. They get cheapened when they are tossed out for a simple matter of disagreement. Using those words without understanding their meaning, or the person or group that get tagged with them makes the labeler the racist or bigot, not the one being labeled.

In today’s climate, that may sound a bit petty. There’s along unhealed rift between blacks and whites. All lives really do matter. They are equally valuable and important, and to pick a side isn’t helping. Christ was neither white nor black as we might define those races. It was still his blood that was shed for people of all colors. If you don’t believe it, thinking religion has been polluted over the years… you may be right… or you may be wrong.

Now is a good time to touch base with the roots of Christianity. What did the first century writers have to say? You know… those men of color, who lived in the Middle East, and taught there, and in Northern Africa. What did they say, and which flavors of the Christian religion still closely hold those teachings? I’m not here to say. Some definitely do not. Some do. No single race holds the monopoly on Jesus. It pays to do your own investigating, paying attention to the evidence the earliest writers documented.

With our extended bunny trail as wrapped up as we can make it, our attentions turn to the promised topic.

Without using the name of this worldview, Keith tries to describe it. What does it stand for? Why might some people find it appealing? Where are it’s shortcomings? Nathan has it figured out, and we pull the mask off… the Marxism worldview.

To summarize:

  • It’s all about materialism and money. Social standing, and equality.
  • The ideal is to ensure equality for all regarding social standing, income, and power.
  • To close the gap between the very rich and the very poor. A classless society.

Does that sound appealing to anyone out there who may be feeling oppressed and under appreciated?

Wait, there’s more…

  • No individual should have the right to own a means to make money, and not share it with his workers.
  • No individual should be able to set an unrealistic price on goods, making them unaffordable by the workers.
    • Especially when it drives the owners income up, and further from that of the laborer.
    • Especially when the product is unaffordable to use by the worker who made it.
  • When the social economic environment is stabilized, all will live as one, in peace and harmony.

Still sound appealing?

We try to use real examples of how this ideology actually crushes the people it claims to help. It’s an ideology that still has to have a form of government to oversee it. When all the people are brought down to the lowly, equal state, it means the few, elite in government power, are unrealistically elevated above the common citizen. It means a free market and competition is gone. It means the public, actually government owns production, sets price, quality, availability, and choice. Without free market competition, there’s no motive or incentive to improve or develop new products.

The capitalistic democracy that we know and love here in America may get a lot of criticism, but by and large it has been more successful and shown more promise in creativity in realms of art, science, technology, and more, than the quality of life in those practicing Marxism. Sure, there are those who are extremely wealthy, but more often than not they do provide benefits for their employes. Wages are rarely set so the product isn’t affordable to the laborer. There often stock options, giving ownership, and a share in the profits to the worker, and other ways of giving back to the needs of society.

How might this worldview pollute the church, and biblical worldview?

Our time is rapidly running out, but when looking at what might be considered appealing, the motive centers firmly around materialism. In a word, greed.

This worldview also teaches that all means should be used, even violence and terror, to overthrow the oppressor, and share goods equally. Revolution is encouraged to squash the opposition, unless its Marxism itself. There can be no opposition in the ranks.

Definitely a far cry from the teaching of Jesus. Where’s peace, love, forgiveness, building one another up, helping the poor, the orphaned, and the widow? Harmony and peace is attainable in this world, through Jesus doctrine. It can never be through the teaching of Marx.

There’s more we didn’t get into, like the rejection of all religion, and forcing atheism on everyone. Also the idea that humanity, actually the common worker, is the authority to decide morality. All ideas that are at odds with Christianity.

To officially wrap it up, we share a thought for the week. And just in time too. The Retrobots… well actually our unruly one… was sent out on a mission, and has come sneaking back into the studio. A good time for Nathan to make a hasty departure.

Quest for Truth 130 Bible Survey 13: Promised Messiah

Or, They Went Out of Their Way

Before we get started, the Retrobots, at least one of them, goes a little berserk over a small disagreement Nathan had over our last episode. I invited him to expand on that matter, plus a few other items that came up in the two previous solo episodes. Thanks to our unruly Retrobot, those responses will have to wait until later.

Nathan did manage to get through, thanks to our sane Retrobot, Callie, and read the passage, and shared his thoughts on how the people in this account went out of their way, some involuntarily, and some intentionally.

Quoted from the Literary Study Bible:

This best known of all Bible passages–so carefully located in time and place (a style that literary critics call circumstantial)–draws a contrast between the humble circumstances of Christ’s birth and the glorious praise that he deservedly receives from multitudes of the heavenly host. Reinforcing the motif of humility, the style is simple and the effect one of understatement as the world-changing events are narrated in a matter-of-fact way. In this birth narrative Luke introduces two of the main themes of his Gospel: as the Son of David, Jesus has come to bring salvation to Israel, especially poor and lowly outcasts like the shepherds; as the Savior of the world, he has come to bring salvation to all people.

English Standard Version:

2 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when2 Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

8And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’ 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 ‘ Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’ 16And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Afterward, Keith shares a few references from the Old Testament that prophesied the coming Messiah, the need for a savior, and the restoration to God, and out of sin, that moment would bring.

There’s also special fulfillment to promises made to the nation of Israel. Hope is extended to the gentile, or the non-believers, to now be included in future promises. Those believing gentiles, and Jews who recognize this promised event are now part of a special group known as the church.

Remember those promises from last episode that didn’t always sound so nice? Because of the work of the Messiah, and the Holy Spirit to save us through the price art the cross, and through faith, we can expect a place in a future kingdom that will unite the realms of both heaven and earth.

We close out with our closing thoughts, and even Nathan Caldwell manages to sneak one in.

PS: Stay tuned for the end credits to roll through, and a candid lesson in phone etiquette with our favorite unruly Retrobot. I’m not sure he quite gets it.

Quest for Truth 129 God’s Promises: Not for You! Wait! What?

On a solo episode for this week’s quest, not even a brave Retrobot to lend a servo motor, Keith goes it alone to examine the reality of God’s promises, and why they aren’t intended for everybody. In some cases, even the people who claim them are mistaken. First we need to determine who God makes his promises to, and who he doesn’t. Then we need to see how he has different things in store for his favored people groups. The following notes are extracted from the public domain book by C.I. Scofield, Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth.

The Jew, the Gentile, and the Church of God

“Give none offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God.”
1 Corinthians 10:32

Over half the Bible pertains to the Israelites. They have a distinct place with God. They have a unique covenant, and promises not given to anyone else. If obedient, the nation is promised earthly greatness, riches, and power;

The church also has a special relationship to God. It has also received specific promises. Similarity ends there, and a striking contrast begins.

the Gentiles are distinct from either the Jew, or the church.

Comparisons:

the Jew (Romans 9:4-5; John 4:22; Romans 3:1-2);

  • To the Jew belongs glory, covenant, promises, and from them Messiah comes.
  • Salvation from the Jews.
  • Entrusted with God’s word.

the Gentile (Ephesians 2:11-12; Ephesians 4:17-18; Mark 7:27-28);

  • Without Christ, excluded from Israel, foreign to covenant of promise, without hope, without God.
  • They have futile thoughts, dark understanding. Excluded from God due to ignorance, and stubbornness.
  • Even dogs get crumbs.

the Church (Ephesians 1:22-23; Ephesians 5:29-33; 1 Peter 2:9).

  • Head and body, comparing relationship between Christ and the church.
  • One flesh, marriage relationship used in comparing Christ and the church.
  • A race, priesthood, nation, a possession to proclaim His glory.

The only real promises of hope along with Israel and the Church. All points contrast

Origins are different.

Israel began with the call of Abram. (Genesis 12:1)

The church doesn’t begin with Adam or the patriarchs. It doesn’t even begin during the time of Christ.

(Matt. 16:18), “Upon this rock I will build my church.”

Not, have built, not am building, but will build.

the church is not once mentioned in Old Testament prophecy, but was, in those ages, a mystery “hid in God.”

Ephesians 3:5-10,

Verses 5,6 (ESV)
5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.
6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Differences in calling and promise. (Mission and Vision)
Differences in worship and principles of conduct. (Strategy and Tactics. Dependant on the degree of obedience.)
Differences in future destiny

Calling of ISRAEL

Summary:

  • To be separate from the rest of the world, given a promised land. (Genesis 12:1)
  • Earthly abundance. (Deuteronomy 8:7-9; Genesis 24:34-35)
  • Protection from enemies. (Deuterronomy 28:7)
  • To be a privileged race. (Deuteronomy 28:13)

Calling of the CHURCH

  • Are partakers of heaven. Have citizenship in heaven. (Hebrews 3:1; Phillipians 3:20)
  • No promise of earthly home or comfort. (Matthew 8:20)
  • Enduring hunger, thirst, nakedness, homelessness, and persecution (John 16:2).
  • Poor in wealth, strong in faith. Difficult for the wealthy to inherit. ((James 2:5; Mark 10:23)
  • The least are great. Humble faith as a child. (Matthew 18:4)

Of course it is not meant that a godly Jew did not, at death, go to heaven. The distinction for the Jew is that the incentive to godliness in his case was earthly blessings, not heavenly. n this dispensation, neither Jew nor Gentile can be saved except by the exercise of faith on the Lord Jesus Christ whereby both are born again (John 3:3,16) and are baptized into the “one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13) which is “the church” (Ephesians 1:22-23).
–C.I. Scofield

In the church the distinction of Jew and Gentile disappears.

Rules of Conduct for ISRAEL

Summary:

  • Strike, cast out, no covenant, no mercy. (Deuteronomy 7:1-2)
  • Equatible justice. Harm for harm. (Exodus 21:24-25)

Rules of Conduct for the CHURCH

Summary:

  • Love, bless, and pray for those doing harm. (Matthew 5:44)
  • Endure suffering and abuse. (1 Corinthians4:12-13; Matthew 5:39)

See also:

  • Deuteronomy 21:18-21 (A rebellious son to be stoned)
  • Luke 15:20-23 (Prodigal son restored).

Contrasts in Worship

Compare

  • Leviticus 17:8-9. Can only sacrifice at the temple, or be cut off. From the gathering
  • Matthew 18:20. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (ESV)
  • Luke 1:10. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. (ESV)
  • Hebrews 10:19-20. Can enter in to pray, due to the blood of Jesus.
    • Numbers 3:10. And you shall appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall guard their priesthood. But if any outsider comes near, he shall be put to death.” (ESV)
    • 1 Peter 2:5. you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (ESV)

    Future of ISRAEL

    Promises of Messiah:

    “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:31-33). (

    Of these seven promises to Mary five have already been fulfilled. By what rule of interpretation are we authorized to say the remaining two will not be also fulfilled?)
    –C.I. Scofield

    Promises of Restoration to their land:

    • Temple to be rebuilt. (Acts 15;14-16). ”
    • The outcast, and stumbling, grafted back in. The gentile, wild branch grafted in. (Romans 11:1,11, 24-26)
    • Remnant recovered from 4 corners of the globe. (Jeremiah 16:14-15)
    • Israel and gentiles returned to the land. (Isaiah 14:1).
    • Messiah rules in justice and safety. (Jeremiah 23:5-6; Jeremiah 32:37,38)
    • Celebrate, no judgement, no enemy, God lives among you. (Zephaniah 3:14-15)

    Future of THE CHURCH

    • A place in heaven. Prepared by Jesus. (John 14: 2, 3)
    • Both those who have died, and those alive at his return will rise, and be gathered to him in heaven. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17)
    • Citizens of heaven, bodies will be changed. (Philippeans 3:20, 21)
    • We will be like Jesus. (1 John 3:2)
    • Celebrate the marriage supper of the lamb. (Revelation. 19:7-9)
    • Resurrection, death has no power. Will be priests. (Revelation 20:6)

    The dangers of failing to understand which [promises don’t belong to you.

    >The Judaizing of the church has done more to hinder her progress, pervert her mission, and destroy her spiritually than all other causes combined.
    –C.I. Scofield

    The calling and promises to Israel are firmly based in this world. The church has no right to claim them. The Church has the promise of eternity in heaven. When the church has used promises intended only to Israel, it lowers, and devalues its purpose. It trades the heavenly for an earthly reward.

    Does the church try to civilize the world? Our mission is to spread the seed of the Gospel. To love, show kindness, even in the push back of hate. If the world ends up more civil, then great.

    The church has been accused of striving to acquire wealth. Earthly gain and comfort has never been promised. If God blesses us in the course of showing love and kindness, enjoy it, but it’s not a promise we have a right to claim.

    The church is criticized for the use of an imposing ritual, (or making religion itself the main thing, not God. Ever heard of people who reject “organized religion?” Or ;you get push back, with the accusation of imposing your morality on someone? The church is called to first spread the Gospel, then make disciples. In other words, first tell them about Jesus, then the morals to live as he taught. To do it the other way round is not the right way.

    Other areas Scofield claims that the church gets wrong is in the areas of: The building of magnificent churches, The invocation of God’s blessing upon the conflicts of wars, andThe dividing of an equal priesthood into “clergy” and “laity.”

    Again, stay out of worldly gain, or politics. If in the course of being kind, comfort comes your way, enjoy it, and continue using it to God’s glory, not yours alone. If kindness gives way to a growing ethic, based on the church, the body of christ, and a body of people gains the attention of a government body, that’s a nice side blessing, not the goal.

    What does it mean to have a divided group into cleric and laity? Isn’t that how it works? Within the meeting of believers, certainly some are Called to lead, or preach, or teach, and some are not. But that’s in administering the word. The mission of each believer is to be a priest. When you share the Gospel, show kindness, love, even in the response to hate, you are serving in your priesthood duty. Service of the priesthood in the church starts when you walk out the door, not when you walk inn.
    To sign off, Keith shares a weekly thought from a Twitter follower.

  • Quest for Truth 128 Secular, What in the World is it?

    After reading a brief devotional series a few months earlier, based on the now released book: The Secret Battle Of Ideas About God, Keith takes his own look at one worldview mentioned in it. By the way, we don’t get any kick backs, ,or support from this product. But we think it’s well worth checking out.

    In his book, Dr. Jeff Myers defines 5 worldview’s in conflict with Christianity. Briefly, they are:

    • Secularism. Life is about control.
      • We can use our intelligence to harness evolution and make life turn out the way we want.
      • Demands only what we think best serves us during our lifetimes.
    • Marxism. Life is about capital.
      • Proposes that the bad condition of the poor, is due to exploitation by the rich.
      • Demands a forcible overthrow of all existing social structures: government, the economy, religion, and family.
    • Postmodernism. Life is about context.
      • There is no absolute truth, only the relative truth we experience ourselves.
      • We create our own reality. What’s right for you may not be right for me, and vise versa.
      • The tricks of religion and science to rule our lives need to be exposed.
    • New spirituality. Life is about consciousness.
      • At the core of reality is a higher consciousness, a force that some people call “god.”
      • Spirituality isn’t just a thing; it is the only thing.
      • Recommends spiritual practices that make people feel at one with the universe.
    • Islam. Life is about conquering.
      • Humanity has a need to unite around sincere worship of one God: Allah,
      • Considering itself to be the one true religion, Islam teaches that we all are born Muslim. Disbelief must be conquered through jihad.

    From Amazon: About the Author

    Over the last twenty years, Dr. Jeff Myers has become one of America’s most respected authorities on Christian worldview, apologetics, and youth leadership development. He is the author of several books and the president of Summit Ministries.
    In his appearances on the FOX News channel and on various TV programs, Dr. Myers offers humor and insight from a Christian worldview. He holds a doctor of philosophy degree and teaches leadership courses through College Plus and Belhaven University. Dr. Myers and his family live in Colorado.

    Political

    Secular Worldview, from National Secular Society

    Characterized by 2 traits.

    1. Separation of church and state protects both religious and non-religious people.
    2. All people groups are equal in civil rights matters. While protecting religion, protects a citizens freedom from religion.
    • Believes in equal access to public services.
    • Protects free speech.
    • Neither theist or atheist, instead, considers itself to be a framework for democratic government.

    Comments: As a political ideal, it sounds good, and neutral, but there’s a lot not touched on with this simple overview. It has worked well enough in the USA for most of its history, but only when government stays out of religious affairs, and relies on religious institutions to be the standard of morality. If it truly is a fair system to all sides , religious groups would not be pressured to cave in to cultural shifts.

    Definition

    Miriam Webster Definition of secularism

    indifference to or rejection or exclusion of religion and religious considerations

    Practice

    From an article on ask.com

    The author of this answer seems to hold to a religious viewpoint, but makes the claims:

    • Secularism believes that man does not need God.
    • Strives towards total elimination of religion from society , making morality worldly and unspiritual.
    • Secular humanism claims No objective or absolute truth of right and wrong.
    • Man is the measure of all things. Man determines right and wrong, based on the culture, not God. No man can determine what morality is, what is considered good changes with the culture.
    • The secular person is tolerant of diversity, but is intolerant of those who claim morality based on God and the Bible.
    • There are no limits, no values, no real standards. If it feels good, do it.
    • Marriage is disparaged, morality mocked, and human life is devalued.
    • Religion is a relic of the past.

    The author ends with a word of warning to churches regarding how secularism affects those in the congregation, and how it corrupts the dynamic of sound bible teaching. Members are accommodated, not disciplined.

    Comments: Again, the definition of keeping church and state separate, as well as the basic definition are repeated. However, some practical agendas that secularism promotes are described. Not to allow religion, but to move to get rid of it. If no one can define a moral code, then how can governments do it? If the individual is the source of their own morals, and decide to not associate with any group who sets a moral standard, then how can any person or group set a standard? Dangerous ground. Churches… you have the right to stick to the standard of the Bible. It’s fine to judge or discipline those within the church using biblical standards. Leave the rest for God to deal with.

    More Concepts

    Secularism – Wikipedia

    Secularism truth claim. Doesn’t dispute the truth in Christianity, but claims other legitimate sources of truth can be found outside it. Life truths that can be proven by life experience.

    Hard secularism. Faith is not legitimate, because there is no rational basis.
    Soft secularism. Absolute truth is unattainable, therefor skepticism and tolerance should be the over riding values in scientific, religious, or moral discussion.

    Secular government, besides the idea of separation of church and state, moves away from laws based directly on scripture, and no official state religion. Eliminates discrimination based on religion. It also keeps government from tampering in religious matters.

    Abortion, contraception, same sex marriage, and sex education are of interest to the secularist.

    On neutrality, the secular person feels they are the keeper of civil rights than the religious ideal of society:

    Being secular means they refuse to commit to a belief in a supernatural deity. Or the role of mankind in it. If anything they are pluralistic. Not homogenous when regarding religion. They see themselves as tolerant of religious diversity.

    Problem solving is done rationally, examining the facts. On a government scale, declares no aim, but guides the individual to their own aims. The secular person sees themselves as a society without a common image, and no common ideal of behavior.

    Further more, they claim to have respect for individuals, and the group they are a part. They claim to consider equality of all people, and are free to realize their own excellence. They feel they break down the barriers of class or caste.

    Comment: There is a lot of restating the idea of equality for all, respect for each individual, and group. However, if a group (religion for example) claims its set of moral code, pressure is put on to silence it. Where’s the respect there?

    Much is left in the trust of government, a large form of group identity, yet no claim is made to support it, identify with it, or otherwise be loyal, to it as a common identity. Unless it offers public support, which is a demand, and expectation.

    Secular people may or may not have religious belief, but they just don’T know what god to trust inn, or whether they even believe in a god at all. And they don’t want to hear about the God of the Bible, they’d rather make up their own god, or life discipline.

    The Philosophic View

    As found on Psychology Today

    Our earlier definition is restated as: Having no belief in supernatural beings or gods. Having no worship practices or holidays. Not identifying with any deity or worship customs.

    Secularism strives to maintain a naturalistic worldview, where everything has a natural, scientific explanation.

    Belief of intangible things is in the realm of matters like love, friendship, or a good education, or other life experiences.

    All we know, or hope to become is limited to our lifespan. There is nothing that comes after.

    If the secular person shares in religious events, or holidays, it’s more out of custom or the food, or family traditions, or anything other than supernatural belief.

    The secular person finds community in the people groups they belong to: Nation, ethnic, occupational, clubs, or others.

    They might be spiritual, or agnostic,, but just not hold to any belief in supernatural things. Not necessarily atheist.

    Comments: The notion of not believing in the supernatural realm is repeated, and defined in a practical way when it comes to social matters.

    It’s still confusing that on one hand identifying with groups seems shunned, yet secular people identify with them as community. Political agendas rock the boat, and in trying to do so, a hypocritical system is set forth that is just as bad as any finger pointing that people do with Christian religions.

    Word to Christians: Some people just don’t get it, or understand the concept of the supernatural. You’re called to tell the gospel message, leave it up to God to soften the soil of the heart to get it ready for the seed of the gospel to grow.

    Live a life that demonstrates the ethical, Christian worldview, not one that encourages pushback. There are times to shake the dust off your feet. There are times to not cast your pearls before swine. There is always a time for prayer. Be a friend first, and show kindness where ever you go.

    An Age Old Problem

    The word Secular first came into use around the 1850’s, but it goes at least as far back as the 1600’s, as written about in John Bunyan’s book, the Pilgrim’s Progress. Keith shares a clip from Youtube in the show, but you can watch the entire presentation of an animated video of the Pilgrim’s Progress on Youtube by clicking here.

    In brief, Christian is in despair over his burden of sin, and as he sets out on his journey to the Celestial City, he is mocked by those who don’t understand his need. After an encounter in the Slough of Despond, he meets Mr Worldly Wiseman. The man is the embodiment of secular ideals, and states the obvious. “Drop your burden, and enjoy life, your wife, and your children! Why do you want to follow that book, and the advice of Mr Evangelist? That’s a hard road, it’s full of difficulties, dangers, and beasts.”

    In epilog to the clip, Christian makes the wrong decision, but is soon set straight, and his many ordeals have just begun.

    One key difference in the clash between Secular and Christian viewpoints since John Bunyan’s time is, to the Worldly Wiseman, Christianity was yet another life discipline, and he tried to force his world view. Christian didn’t try to force his belief, but was easily swayed by the secular view. The matter of the christian walk is one that was known to both sides, but the decision to set out on the road to God is one that only the individual can make.

    I think everyone understands that concept of an individual choice. The modern secular person says, “I know it, but leave me alone, and don’t drag me down your dangerous road.” The modern Christian is still often influenced by worldliness, then gets a black eye over being a hypocrite. And just because he caved into social pressure.

    Or if he, either individually, or collectively as a church, tries to drag others down that dangerous road of discipline, they are surprised at the push back. The point being that our secular friends don’t want any law imposed on them that overtly smacks of a religious ideal. (Separation of church and state.)

    Through most of Christian’s journey, he had traveling companions. Some believed, most didn’t, they came and went as they pleased, but the one notable thing that Christian did was that he shared the gospel message of salvation. His ordeal on the path was plenty to face without imposing any more than that. He makes very few references to laws, or legalities. And he makes a lot of reference to prayer. Travelers face their fate in relation to their own morality, and whether they have accepted the gospel message.

    Should we be concerned for others? Of course, But a page from John Bunyan might still be the way to go, Tell the gospel, welcome the traveling companions, hold to the truth of the Christian worldview, and face life’s road together.

    Quest for Truth 127 Honest Questions

    As Keith and the Retrobots await a phone call, they enjoy a song. Requested by our number one fan, we listen to “Gold” by Nathan Caldwell.

    Ideas for the podcast come from many sources. This one began by borrowing some honest questions that another blogger had asked on his web site. As he puts it:

    Recently I challenged my friends and acquaintances, those who are skeptics, agnostics, non-religious and so on to raise their best questions regarding the Christian faith. I asked them to raise honest questions, questions that if answered would possibly clear the road for them to believe.

    We avoided looking at his answers, so if we arrived at similar conclusions, it was done independently. , but check out the original blog article found at
    Seven Honest Questions Regarding Christianity: A Challenge

    For our purposes, as we try to stay cool on another hot summer day, the Retrobots, David and Callie ask us the questions.

    Question One: If God made us who made God?

    Both Nathan and Keith agree, the universe that we know is finite. It has a definite beginning in time, space, and matter. God is outside that realm, eternal. Though all we know has a cause, he is the infinite creator who has no cause. He created our universe, while being a creature outside of it. Similar to how a carpenter builds a box. He isn’t the box, or made from the same material. He existed before the box did, and continues to exists even after the box serves its purpose. Can he interact with the box, use the box, enjoy the box, fill the box, or empty the box? Yes, and god can do the same, but on a larger, and more intimate scale than any human carpenter.

    Question Two: One question I can’t figure out is why do people pray? If God has a master plan for everyone, what good is praying for someone as that would only seem to be trying to change God’s mind regarding his divine plan?

    We agree that God knows everything, but also point to the account in Exodus 34. To summarize, the people had made a golden calf to worship. God pointed it out to Moses, then went on to claim he would destroy the nation, and rebuild one out of Moses. Moses prayed, and God seemed to have changed his mind on the matter, allowing the nation to live. God certainly knew, and knows the future. His claim of destruction was for Moses behalf. God wanted to point out how horrible their sin was. They certainly deserved death. God is also all about grace, and Moses demonstrated god’s kind of grace for the undeserving people when he prayed for them. Through the instance, it was Moses who had a better understanding of who God is, and what he wants for his people.

    Should we pray for the sick, those in financial need, or other dire circumstance? Yes. Just because God knows the outcome, and what he has in store, the process of the conversation of prayer will help us to understand that person’s emotions and struggle. They matter to God, and they should matter to us.

    Question number Three: How is Christianity any different than the myths before it?

    Though Nathan has some trouble in where this question is coming from, he makes an excellent point that nothing preceded it. There’s a timeline through the history of Israel that predicts, and leads right into the time of Christ. He also brings up the point that myths have no historical evidence, where Christianity has plenty of historic evidence to support the Bible accounts. Keith tries to explain what little he knows about the alleged myths. The real problem is a modern thought problem. It’s easy to look back over the centuries, and wonder over any similarities of long forgotten myths. In a recent podcast, hosted by J Warner Wallace, he makes the comment that though few today know about the myths, those gods were still actively worshipped in the time of Christ and the early church. If early Christians stole those myths, or set up meeting places in the temples and shrines to them, there would be public outcry. History has no evidence of any such claims or outcries, especially in the first 2 centuries, when people were still very active in worship of the mythological gods.

    Question number Four: Every Christian must accept Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross in order to go to heaven. What about those people who have never heard of Jesus?

    God knows the heart of every person. He knows who will believe, if only they heard the gospel. He knows the ones who won’t. If there was an unreached person, presumably in a foreign jungle somewhere, God is big enough that he would somehow place that tender heart in the path of a missionary. That’s not such a crazy idea.

    There’s really an underlying question or two here. Ones that the asking person may or may not be aware of. Since Christ is the only way, many “good” people are being sent to hell. The answer is that God doesn’t send good people to eternal punishment. However, it might pay to use the right label, or definition of what “good” means. God’s definition may surprise you. Only a rare few can actually meet the standard of God’s demand for “good.” His demand is actually perfection. Fortunately, we don’t have to meet that moral standard because of the price Jesus paid. So salvation is less a moral perfection, and more about where you stand with Jesus. What about those remote people who have never heard the good news? God knows who might believe but we don’t. That’s why it’s important to pray, and go tell them.

    The most important unspoken question here is this: Clearly you have heard about Jesus. What are you going to do about him? Take care of your own eternal needs first, then because your heart is broken for those remote people who haven’t heard… pray, and go tell them.

    Question number Five: What about those dinosaurs? Seems to me that it would take a pretty sick sense of humor to stick a bunch of animal bones into the ground that “never existed.”
    Why can’t science and Christianity coincide?
    Isn’t it possible that human error occurred in the writing or, rewriting of translations of the original texts when speaking of creation and the age of the world?
    Religion has always had political affiliations so isn’t it possible in the rewritings that the original message had been perverted or changed entirely to suit the needs of that government?

    OK, there’s a lot here. Most Christians don’t dispute the existence of dinosaurs. They even seem to make an appearance in the Bible. The thing to remember is the Bible has never made a claim to be a science book. Where it overlaps in scientific areas, are usually to praise God for his amazing creation. Nathan and Keith never make it to the discussion of the old earth, or young earth debate, sorry,, maybe another day.

    We have more to say on the matter of whether the hand written transcripts of the Bible have been perverted to suit the demands of political, or government agendas. Oddly enough, there’s just too much evidence that the writings are accurate, and come to us, despite any translation issues, just the way the original texts were.

    Can religion be distorted, polluted, corrupted, and the like? Certainly. Several times, make that many times, religion has been corrupted through the influence of the culture. Or some political reason or other. But when it happens, it’s because the focus has been taken away from the scripture, and human agendas pushed in to distort religion.

    The corrupt system collapses when people return to teachings from the scripture. Reformations become driven as believers casts off the corrupt ways. Believe it, or not, even social reforms like abolishing slavery in America came about due to religious practices returning to what scripture really says.

    Question number Six: Why are some Christians hypocrites? They claim to go by Jesus’s saying “Judge not, Lest you be Judged” but then they turn around and start judging and condemning people like homosexuals saying they’re going to hell and all that stuff. I don’t agree with homosexuality, but I don’t like those “hypocritical Christians” telling me not to associate with them. I’m not gay but I have a lot of gay friends and I don’t want to give up their friendship.

    We don’t disagree. Don’t give up your friends. Introduce them to Jesus, and let him do the rest.

    The real issue here is less about hypocrisy, and more on the issue of tolerance. Jesus never condemned using judgement. It’s actually a virtue when done correctly. Grace may be the greater virtue though, when it comes to introducing the sinner to him. Speaking of sin, the Bible is very clear that practicing homosexuality, or any sexual act outside of marriage is sin.

    When people demand tolerance, what they actually want is forgiveness, long suffering, or being long on allowance. We’re all for that, as long as it goes both ways. I’ll give you plenty of slack in dealing with your sin, if you give me the same allowances. There’s one more thing folks demand, claiming it to be under the banner of tolerance, and that is to be affirmed, or condoned. Now that crosses a line.

    Condoning bad behavior is not the way. It only encourages to a person to be a better sinner. Even Jesus told the woman caught in the act of adultery: I forgive you. Go and sin no more.

    Question number Seven: How do you deal with hypocrisy within Christianity itself without becoming disillusioned or cynical?

    Christians don’t corner the market on hypocrites. There are in every walk of life and social group. How does anybody deal with people behaving badly, without becoming cynical? Pray, and make the effort to see them as the valuable, cherished people that God sees them.

    Hypocracy, or christians behaving like the rest of the world, is the top reason people are turned off by the church. But if people are behaving poorly, where else can they hope to learn about good behavior, if not in the church? People are on different phases in their journey, and some have more to work on than others. We don’t condone the sin, or encourage it, instead we encourage overcoming, being restored, and helping others where possible. To do otherwise would be hypocritical to the faith.

    The show is a little longer than expected, but the Retrobots help sign off with a bonus question, and a closing thought.

    Though we tried to give an honest answer to each question, if you feel we sold one short, or didn’t give it proper attention, point it out, and we’ll gladly return to it.

    Quest for Truth 126 Gospel Goodness

    It’s hot today, so we skip the meet the host segment, The Retrobots help out, as we wait for Nathan to phone in to comment on our main topic. Ambient noise from being out in the breeze causes some background noise, but my noise gate managed to filter some of it. You know how we roll… low tech, and when we can achieve pristine, studio sound we like it. This is one show where we threw that caution to the wind… literally.

    Main Topic

    Once Nathan’s phone call comes in, we get right into looking at Ephesians 1:1-14.

    There’s a lot of heavy hitting topics in such a short span of verses, and it’s important to understand who the audience this message is intended. Blessings, promises, assurances, but these are not blanket promises for all humanity, only those who are the faithful ones.

    Greeting

    1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:
    2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

    • Written to the saints at Ephesus.
    • Saints/Ephesians who are faithful.
    • Faithful in Christ. (faithful to the gospel)

    Spiritual Blessings in Christ

    3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,

    • God blesses us. (God the father of our lord, our lord Jesus,)
    • God the authority to bless, and blessings that can’t be taken by lower authority.
    • Blessings to us who are faithful in Christ.
    • Blessings from the best heaven has to offer.
    • We return those blessings to God in the form of gratitude and praise.

    4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love
    5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
    6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

    • He (God) chose us. Does this apply to all humanity? No, this is specifically for the elect, the believers.
    • God made his choice before creation.
    • Restoring people to him,
    • Who? He predestined us for adoption.
    • How? He predestined adoption through Christ
    • According to his will. His will, not ours, or anybody else’.
    • What’s his will? To be in him, (Christ). To be holy, blameless, in love.
    • Also to praise his (God’s) grace.
    • Why? Due to grace, blessings come.
    • Blessings to us, who are in him (the beloved, Christ).
    • Also grace that is extended to the people groups who have yet to connect, believe, and become the elect. Opportunity to connect to the power, and promise is available, even if not chosen (free will).

    7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,
    8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight
    9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ

    • Christ. in him is redemption (salvation, adoption).
    • The price, his blood.
    • What it buys. Forgiveness for all sin (transgression). An irrevocable blessing from grace.
    • Grace that is lavished on us.
    • Grace that unlocks the mystery of God’s purpose.
    • Grace that gives wisdom and insight.
    • A purpose established with Christ (before creation, for redemption, adoption, to understand how to live well, and love our creator)

    10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

    A statement that some consider a difficult saying. If only the elect get to claim the kingdom, then why does it say “all” will be gathered to him?

    .

    • Purpose of the plan (of redemption, salvation, of restoration) comes in fullness of time, when the time is right.
    • All things being things in heaven and things in earth. (Things, not people).
    • Not universal salvation, but universal sovereignty that Jesus has in the power of his blood.
    • Jesus has ultimate authority, but the person still has to connect, and plug into that power.
    • All people will bow, but some will be cast off, while others go to glory, and this united heaven and earth.

    Remember the audience of this writing, faithful believers, not an open letter to humanity. Getting back into context…

    11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,
    12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.
    13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,

    • Inheritance is obtained through Christ.
    • Predestined according to God’s purpose. Planned before we ever knew there would be a need.
    • According to his will alone.
    • “We” (meaning Paul, the Ephesians, and early Christians) are privileged to be the first generation of believers.
      His good will. His authoritative will.

    • First comes hearing the gospel. Then comes belief, which seals the relationship of adoption.
    • Sealed by the holy spirit.

    14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

    • The guarantee (downpayment, earnest) is the holy spirit, and his seal. (Since Christ is the full payment)
    • The downpayment is temporary blessing, and assurance, until we come into full inheritance at life’s end.
    • It’s a down payment of blessing paid to us, until we can move into our home in the kingdom.

    As we sign off, the Retrobots, David and Callie, share a closing thought of the week.

    Still have questions? Want to tell us something? Send email through the web site. Visit us on Facebook to comment through our HPNCast Community. Use the comment form on any of the show notes, or give us a call on our voicenail number. (401)753-4844