Last week I had the opportunity to speak with students between sessions at Summit Worldview Academy. I taught on the nature of truth, the reliability of the gospels, and the evidence for God’s existence from cosmology. The students were eager to learn and had many good questions during the breaks, during our lunch and dinner time together, and at an evening session specifically set aside for questions. The students shared a number of stories related to the ways they were already being challenged as young Christians. Many had experienced a season of doubt and were grateful for the training they were receiving at Summit. Dr. Jeff Myers, the president of Summit Ministries, has assembled an incredible collection of thinkers, teachers and trainers to help prepare students to face challenges and “analyze the various ideas that are currently competing for their hearts and minds.” These young people were eager to prepare themselves for these encounters. Christian students are surrounded by competing worldviews from a very young age. As I spoke with the young men and women at Summit, I thought about the many ways our kids are challenged from childhood through their college years:
Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis reminds Christians that they are living in the midst of an ongoing spiritual war. Many believers “are virtually asleep while a battle rages all around them.”
A friend of ours, knowing that Mally and I enjoy watching detective programs on TV, sent us an intriguing DVD series set in World War II. As we watched the programs, I thought about what is happening today in the church. You see, while soldiers were at the battlefront overseas in WWII, people back home in England were by and large going about their daily business.
The British people definitely knew a war was going on, but they were quite oblivious to much of what was happening where the battles were raging. When soldiers came home, some with horrific wounds and startling stories, it was clear that the general population really did not know what terrible things were happening on the front lines.
The Bible doesn’t give instructions on how a body should be handled after death. In the cultures of Bible times, burial in a tomb, cave, or in the ground was the common way to dispose of a human body (Genesis 23:19; 35:4; 2 Chronicles 16:14; Matthew 27:60–66). The most common type ofburial in the Bible was the dead being placed in above-ground tombs, for those who could afford it. For those who could not afford it, bodies were buried in the ground. As we see in Joshua 7:25, the only time the dead were burned in the Bible was as a punishment of the wicked for offenses they committed against God’s commands (Leviticus 20:14). In the New Testament, tombs were still the burial places of the wealthy, which is why Jesus, who had no earthly wealth at all, had to be buried in a tomb borrowed from a wealthy member of the Jewish hierarchy named Joseph of Arimathea (Matthew 27:57–60).
Today, obeying the laws of the land regarding corpses is always a significant consideration. Laws vary from country to country and, in the U.S., from state to state. Because Christians are to obey the government authorities over us, laws regarding disposing of a body must be followed. Then there is the question of burial vs. cremation. Neither is commanded in the Bible, but neither is prohibited. In the end, it is best to leave that decision to the family of the deceased.
Whatever method is used to dispose of a body is not nearly as important as the truth that the body is no longer housing the person who has died. Paul describes our bodies as “tents” that are temporary abodes. “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands” (2 Corinthians 5:1). When Jesus returns, Christians will be raised to life and our bodies will be transformed to glorified, eternal bodies. “So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power” (1 Corinthians 15:42–43).
Did God die when Jesus died on the cross? The answer depends on how we understand the meaning of the word “die.” To die does not mean an end of existence. Death is separation. Death is when the soul-spirit separates from the physical body. So, in that sense, yes, God died, because Jesus was God in human form, and Jesus’ soul-spirit separated from His body. However, if by “die” we mean a cessation of existence, then no, God did not die. For God to die would mean that He ceased to exist, and neither the Father, nor the Son, nor the Holy Spirit will ever cease to exist. The essence of Jesus, the second Person of the Trinity, left the body He temporarily inhabited on Earth, but His essence did not die, nor could it.
Jesus is truly God and truly man. His physical body did die because it was entirely human. Just as our physical bodies die, so did His. But in the same way that Jesus died physically, but remained alive spiritually, so our physical bodies will experience death, but our soul and spirit will remain because they are eternal. The same is true with regard to Jesus Christ. His physical body died, but His inner being is eternal and could not die.
The question for all people to ask is “what will happen to my soul/spirit when it leaves my physical body?” This is the most crucial question in life. As we saw with Jesus, our spirits will leave our bodies and travel on to somewhere else. Jesus returned to heaven to be with the Father. We will either follow Him there to spend eternity in heaven with Him, or we will go to hell to spend eternity in “outer darkness” where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:12). There is no other option. Jesus’ physical death on the cross paid the way for all who would ever believe in Him so that we can know for sure where our spirits will reside for eternity. His physical death provided to us spiritual life, both here and in heaven. “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you” (Romans 8:11).
Communion services, also known as the Lord’s Supper, are usually held in churches during the worship services. For the early church, however, worship services were in homes. The church in Jerusalem met in the home of Mary (Acts 12:12), in Philippi in the home of Lydia (Acts 16:40), and in Ephesus in the home of Aquila and Priscilla (1 Corinthians 16:19). In Colossae the church met in the home of Philemon (Philemon 2). As we learn from Acts 2, the early church met regularly for the apostles’ teaching, prayer, fellowship and “the breaking of bread,” commonly understood to be communion (Acts 2:42).
However, Scripture does not designate where the communion service must be held. It has been served in hospitals and nursing homes for ill patients. Missionaries on the field have served communion to believers where no churches have yet been established. Some families perform their own communion service on special occasions such as Christmas Eve. Our Lord, in commemorating the Passover with the disciples in the upper room, instituted the first communion service. The only instructions we have regarding the process of the rite come from Jesus’ own words to “do this in remembrance of me” until He comes (1 Corinthians 11:24–26). This passage gives all the instructions we need to perform the rite of communion and to understand the significance of what we are doing.
It was after Pentecost when the church was established that communion was regularly served in church settings and considered to be an ordinance of the church. As such, the recognized church leadership administered the service. But there is no biblical reason why the Lord’s Supper cannot be administered in homes among friends and family, in a home church setting, or anywhere else. The important thing is not location, but the remembrance of the body and blood of Christ, whereby we are saved.
For decades now, Christians have been the “invisible or ignored victims” of conflicts in the Middle East. At best, the US has paid scant attention as once thriving communities of indigenous Christians in Palestine, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt have been attacked, threatened, or forced to endure indignity and hardship.
There are many reasons for this lack of attention to the situation of Arab Christians, with one principal factor being ignorance. Most Americans have so little knowledge of the Arab World, its history and people that they are unaware that these Christian communities even exist. This must be remedied, since without an understanding of the role played by Christians in the Arab societies of the Middle East, there can be no reasoned discussion about the past, present, and future of this region.
One striking example of this ignorance comes to mind. I once hosted a press breakfast in Washington for a…
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- West: No decision has yet been made on whether/when to attack Syria (Ynet News)
- Military strikes on Syria could come “as early as Thursday” US officials tell NBC News
- White House rules out ‘regime change’ among options for Syria (Reuters)
- Syria Defiant as U.S. Allies Lay Ground for Strike: Arab League Says Regime Used Chemical Weapons (WSJ)
- What would “taking punitive military action against the Syrian regime” look like? (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
- ‘A pity they both can’t lose’: Five insights on how US action in Syria might play out, and how Israel might want it to; and one battle-proven suggestion for an ultimatum to Assad (Times of Israel)
(Washington, D.C.) — An Iranian-Syrian alliance preparing for a war with Israel involving weapons of mass destruction? An Israeli Prime Minister threatening to strike? An American President vacillating over what to do even as the situation gets…
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Here’s a handy back-to-school tip: Make friends with that pimple-faced kid sitting alone in the back of the classroom.
You know the one. Nobody wants to be around him because he’s weird. He doesn’t belong to a group, except for maybe the losers. He smells funny. All the cool people make fun of him. The jocks push him around. If you talk to him, he either freezes up or gives you an excruciatingly detailed description of his comic book collection.
Talk to him anyway. Not out of pity. Not because he might become the next Bill Gates. Do it because Jesus would.
Have you ever heard someone say that God cannot look upon sin? I have, and a reader recently sent in this question:
It has been told to me that God cannot look upon evil, so why does the beginning of the book of Job portray God and satan conversing?
I have written about this before as part of the book I am writing on the goodness of God and the problem of violent portrayals of God in the Old Testament. Regarding this question of whether or not God can look upon sin or be near evil, I wrote this:
Read More Here: http://www.tillhecomes.org/god-cannot-look-upon-sin/
Recently when I was discussing philosophy with an earnest undergraduate student, she informed me that she rejected the idea that she could know “the truth” because this would condemn everyone who disagreed with her. Since philosophers have traditionally exulted in winning arguments instead of eliminating them, I asked why she shunned victory in favor of terminal agnosticism. She explained, “If I claim to know the truth, then I must also claim that whoever disagrees with me is wrong, and that would make me intolerably arrogant.”
Is your church “reformed?” It soon will be, if Matthew Vines has his way. In just a few weeks, Vines will reach thousands of people around the nation and train them to infiltrate Bible-believing churches like yours to attack the Truth.
Vines, a Harvard-educated gay Christian who sparked a great deal of controversy in the church community last year with his in-depth analysis on why the Bible does not condemn homosexuality, has launched a new leadership training conference aimed at teaching Christians how to lead LGBT-friendly churches and communities:
The following are notes from the first in a year long sermon series on common objections to the Christian faith. Why preach on what is known as “apologetics” instead of just doing what I normally do, which is preach verse-by-verse through a book of the Bible? The last twenty years has seen a rise of atheism from 8% to 15%. I have also discovered over the last 15 years of ministry that the number one reason people leave the faith and one of the top three reasons people don’t share the Gospel is because they don’t know how to handle these objections. So, I am tired of watching people leave the Body or stand impotent in the face of opposition.
One objection I often hear is, “Something may be true for you but not for me.” This is a variation of the “there is no truth only opinion, so you can’t push your so-called truth on me!”
The problem with this objection is (1) it is logically incoherent and (2) the person who makes the objection is not willing to actually live that way.
Certainly the appearance of design in the natural world makes a strong case for the existence of a super-intelligent being, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Many people look at the world around them and marvel at its functionality and complexity. A common reaction to the functionality and complexity of the world is to wonder who or what made it that way.
Based on that intuition about the world, theists, those who believe in a single creator God, have made an argument about the existence of God in the following way.
“Intelligent people don’t simply reject religion because it’s wrong; they reject it because their social environments lead them to think it’s wrong.”
Picking up a sub sandwich today, I saw a news report on CNN about Miley Cyrus’ performance at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards. I was shocked, then sickened, then saddened.
For the rest of the day, I wondered:
What kind of people are we?
What kind of culture have we created?
What do we want our children to be?
No more wondering. Tonight, I weep.
(Washington, D.C.) — The countdown to military action appears to be underway.
But if the U.S. and her allies decide to launch military strikes in Syria, it will only do so after publicly presenting evidence of chemical weapons usage by the Assad regime, senior administration officials say. This is right. It is important that the record be clear before the U.S. makes any decision about using force.
At the same time, if the President orders military action — and reportedly he has not made a final decision — it would be of limited duration. We’re talking about airstrikes, missile strikes, against key regime targets, not an invasion or anything close to it. This is also important. If WMD has been used to murder people, action must be taken. The perpetrators must be punished. But we must be wise about how we act. We do not want al Qaeda or the Muslim…
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UPDATED:(Washington, D.C.) — Israeli military forces and civil defense authorities are on full alert, looking for any sign that Syria is about to attack, especially with chemical weapons. Netanyahu warned Israel will hit hard if a Syrian threat is detected.
“The State of Israel is ready for any scenario. We are not part of the civil war in Syria but if we identify any attempt whatsoever to harm us, we will respond and we will respond in strength,” Netanyahu said on Tuesday after a meeting with his security advisers, his second in as many days.
“Requests for gas masks among Israelis saw a major increase on Sunday and Monday, reflecting growing concern among the country’s citizens of a possible Syrian chemical attack following assessments that the US will soon launch a military assault on the war-torn country,” reports the Times of Israel.
“Israeli post offices, which serve as distribution points…
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