Did Jesus Claim to Be God? – Part 2

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Did Jesus Claim to Be God?

Did the historical Jesus really claim to be God as Christians say? Last week we started to look at what the New Testament says.  This week we’ll explore two of Jesus’ favorite ways to refer to himself and then we’ll look at some evidence to see if the claims of deity go back to Jesus himself.

Things of God

Son of God

The first of Jesus’ two favorite ways to refer to himself was as the Son of God.  This is a title of deity.  Jesus often referred to himself as the son of the heavenly Father and in case we think he meant it in just a general way, as you and I might refer to ourselves as children of God, Jesus claimed a very unique knowledge of and connection with God the Father.  He said in Matthew 11:27, “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”  Those are some pretty exclusive claims Jesus was making.  He was claiming to be the unique Son of God.  What’s more, Jesus received worship as the Son of God.  Matthew 14:32 says, “Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’” Jesus didn’t correct them, as many in the Bible do, saying “No, don’t worship me, I’m just a man like you.”, rather he accepted their worship. In claiming to be the Son of God, he was claiming to be God.

Son of Man

son of manThe most common way Jesus referred to himself, though, was as the Son of Man.  Now we might not recognize this as a claim to be God.  Some have mistakenly said that in referring to himself as Son of Man, that that emphasizes his humanity.  But as Gary Habermas points out, this title is just as much a claim to be God.  It’s a reference to a passage in the Old Testament, in Daniel chapter 7.  Daniel said, “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” This son of man would come with the clouds and set up a kingdom and be worshipped by everyone.  He would be someone other than God the Father (he approached the Ancient of Days) who would be worshipped by everyone. He himself would be deity.

Jesus used this Son of Man title of himself more than any other title and he got himself in trouble with it. He especially offended the Jewish leaders when he used this title of himself for his future coming in glory and judgement.  When he was on trial before the Jewish leaders, before being sent to the cross, they asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” He replied, in Mark 14:62, “’I am,’ said Jesus. ‘And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’  The high priest tore his clothes. ‘Why do we need any more witnesses?’ he asked.  ‘You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?’  They all condemned him as worthy of death.” For answering “I am” and using the title, the Son of Man, like this, quoting almost exactly from Daniels 7, they charged Jesus with blasphemy and condemned him to death.  They clearly took him to be claiming to be deity, to be God.

How Do We Know Jesus Really Said These Things?

Okay, so maybe both Son of God and Son or Man are claims to be God, but how do we know that the historical Jesus really said these things himself?  How do we know the church didn’t just put those words in his mouth later on?  There are at least three good pieces of evidence that show that Jesus himself, by using these titles, claimed to be God. I’ll mention the first one right now and then I hope you’ll come back next week for the other two.

How do we  know that Jesus used the title, Son of Man, of himself and made this bold claim to be God at his trial before the Jewish leaders?  Because they crucified him for it. History clearly tells us that he was crucified.  So if Jesus didn’t make this claim, if that wasn’t the reason for his crucifixion, then why was he crucified? Virtually everyone says that Jesus lived a good and loving life and was a good moral teacher. So why was he crucified like a criminal? It seems to me that the best explanation is the one the New Testament provides, that he claimed to be God and was charged with blasphemy and was put to death for it.

What do you think? Give that some thought and then come back next week for the other two pieces of evidence.


Source: Lecture on the Historical Jesus by Gary Habermas

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Did Jesus Claim to Be God?

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Did Jesus Claim to Be God?

Did the historical Jesus really claim to be God as Christians say? That’s a pretty important question, don’t you think? Some say that he didn’t.  To answer the question let’s start by taking a look at what the New Testament says and then we’ll look at some evidence to see if those claims go back to Jesus himself.

Things of God


What does the New Testament say?

First, does the New Testament even say that Jesus claimed to be God? The New Testament authors say that Jesus is God (ex. John 1:1) but does it say that Jesus himself made that claim? It never has him saying the exact words, “I am God”, but in the language and Jewish culture of the day, can we see him making a claim to deity?

I believe so.  He says things like “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30). He had this interaction with the Jewish leaders, he said, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me.  Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word.  Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”  To this they said, “You’re not even 50 yet and you claim to have seen Abraham, who lived 2000 years ago?  And he said, “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.” (John 8:54-59)

i amWhy were they ready to stone him? Because not only did he claim to be before Abraham, he said, “I am”. We might think he was making a grammatical error, thinking he should have said “I was” instead of “I am”.  But what he was doing was referring to the time God spoke to Moses through the burning bush and Moses asked God, “What if I go to your people and tell them ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you’ and they say, ‘What’s his name?’, what should I tell them?”  And God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:13-14) So Jesus was claiming the name of God. He was saying, “I am the I am“.  They recognized what he was claiming and for that they were ready to stone him, because he was claiming to be God.

Doing Things Only God Can Do

Jesus also claimed to be able to do things only God can do, like forgiven someone of all their sins. One day some friends brought a paralyzed man to Jesus on a mat.  When Jesus saw their faith he said to the paralyzed man, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”  Hearing this, the Jewish leaders thought, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Now we might think, “I’m not God and I can forgiven someone of their sins against me.” But Jesus was claiming to forgive him of all his sins and the Jewish leaders understood that, and only God can forgiven someone of all their sins.


Knowing what they were thinking, Jesus said, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?  But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”  Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God.” (Luke 5:17-26)

Jesus was saying, “Yeah, anyone can claim to be God, but so that you’ll know I have the authority to forgive sins, something only God can do, I’ll do something else only God can do, that you can see with your eyes, I’ll heal this man.”  He was saying, “I am God” and he backed up that claim by his miracles, and ultimately by his resurrection.

Son of God and Son of Man

In these few passages we’ve looked at already we’ve seen two of Jesus favorite ways to refer for himself.  He referred to himself as the son of the Father, meaning the Son of God, and most often he referred to himself as the Son of Man.  The first one, Son of God, is more obvious to us as a claim to deity, but in fact, Son of Man, is also a clear claim to deity.  Come back next week as we explore these two titles of Jesus as claims to be God and then we’ll look at how we can know that Jesus made these claims about himself and that they weren’t just added by the church later on.

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Is There an Objective Moral Law? Part 2

Posted on by Reasons for Hope 315 in Objective Morality, Questions | Leave a comment

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Is There An Objective Moral Law?

A lot of people today like the concept of moral relativism, the idea that there’s no objective standard of right and wrong.  Last week I began laying out the case for why I think that there must be an objective moral law.  This week I continue presenting, for your consideration, the reasons why I believe this to be the case.


Without an objective moral law there would be no way to measure moral differences

Frank Turek and Norman Geisler present the two different maps of Scotland below and ask us which is the better map, Map A or Map B?

maps of scotland

How can we tell which is the better map? The only way is to compare them to what the real Scotland looks like.  You have to compare both maps to the real, unchanging place called Scotland.  If Scotland doesn’t exist then both maps are meaningless, but since it does exist we can see that Map A is better because it’s closer to the unchanging standard, the real Scotland.

This is the same thing we do when we compare the behavior of Adolf Hitler to the behavior of Mother Teresa.  We appeal to an objective standard that is beyond both of them.  C.S. Lewis put it this way, “The moment you say that one set of moral ideas can be better than another, you are, in fact, measuring them both by a standard, saying that one of them conforms to that standard more nearly than the other.  But the standard that measures two things is something different than either. You are, in fact, comparing them both with some Real Morality, admitting that there is such a thing as a real Right, independent of what people think, and that some people’s ideas get nearer to the real Right than others. Or put it this way.  If your moral ideas can be truer, and those of the Naziz less true, there must be something- some real morality – for them to be true about.”

If there is no objective moral law, then there’s no moral difference between the actions of Mother Teresa and Hitler.  If everything is just a matter of personal opinion and preference, and there’s no objective standard, then how can we say that Hitler’s preference for murdering people is worse than Mother Teresa’s preference for helping people?  If moral relativism is true then there’s no moral difference between slavery and freedom, love and hate, abuse and care.  But we know this isn’t the case.  We no that what Hitler did was wrong and that Mother Teresa did was right, regardless of what either of them thought of the rightness of their actions.

The fact that we sense we fall short is evidence that there is an objective moral law

Most all of us have a clear sense that we fall short of how we should live our lives.  I know I do. I know that I’ve blown it and have failed to treat others as I should countless times. I experience guilt when I fall short.  This is another evidence that there is an objective moral law that I’m aware of that I violate.  Maybe I feel guilty because I am.  The other reasons I’ve presented lead me to believe that this is indeed the case.

So if there is an objective moral standard, what are the implications of this?

An Objective Moral Law points to the existence of an Moral Law Giver

gavelEvery law has a law giver.  Laws don’t just come into existence on their own.  They are considered and given by law makers/givers. Therefore if there is an objective moral law, there is an objective, transcendent, moral law giver.  This law giver would be above and beyond humanity. So who would this moral law giver be?  God is the most reasonable explanation for such a transcendent moral law giver.  As J. Warner Wallace says, “If God exists, He would certainly transcend all species, cultures, locations and moments in time. For this reason, the existence of transcendent moral truth is best explained by the existence of God as the transcendent source of such truth.”

The existence of a God who created us and is above us explains why we would have an undeniable sense of right and wrong.  The Bible presents such a God who cares about right and wrong.  He wants what’s right to be done and not what’s wrong.  This is because he is good and loving and just and he doesn’t want what’s evil and wrong to go on.  None of us want to be victims of what’s wrong and God doesn’t want us to be either.

Good News

We may not like the idea of there being an objective moral law because, if there is, we know we violate it.  We might like to think it’s all relative and so we’re not guilty, but when someone wrongs us, we know that’s not right.  The good news is that God, the moral law giver, knows that we all fall short of his law and he came up with a way that we can be forgiven and not have to pay the penalty for our law breaking.  The Bible says that Jesus is God and he came here to give his life for us on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins.

A just law giver and judge can’t just let it go when the laws are broken, when wrong is done. If Hitler had lived, none of us would have been ok with it if a judge who tried him just let all the wrongs things he did go unpunished. The problem is that we’ve all done wrong things.  The good news is that Jesus paid the penalty for the wrong things that I’ve done and that you’ve done.  The Bible says that because of Jesus’ loving sacrifice for us, and his rising from the dead, if we place our faith in him and ask him to forgive us and make us right with God, he will. (John 3:16; Romans 3:23; 6:23; 10:13)  And then as we seek to live in his ways out of love and gratitude for what he’s done for us, he helps us.

I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be An Atheist by Frank Turek and Norman Geisler
Cold Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace


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Is There An Objective Moral Law?

Posted on by Reasons for Hope 315 in Objective Morality, Questions | Leave a comment

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Is There An Objective Moral Law?

Is there an absolute, objective standard of right and wrong or are ideas of right and wrong relative?  A lot of people today like the concept of relativism.  We hear things said like “That may be true for you but it isn’t for me.”  Some say that there is no absolute standard, morals are just made up and determined by people and cultures.  Others believe that there is an absolute standard of right and wrong that exists outside of us, outside of the opinions of individuals and cultures.  So what’s the case?  Here are some reasons I believe there does exist an objective moral law.


People all over have a sense of right and wrong

Everyone has the sense that to love is right and to hate is wrong.  They know that courage  is better than cowardice.  C.S. Lewis put it this way in Mere Christianity, “Think of a country where people were admired for running away in a battle, or where a man felt proud of double-crossing all the people who had been kindest to him. You might just as well try to imagine a country where two and two made five.”  Everyone knows that it’s wrong to kill innocent human beings for no reason. Some people may deny that and murder anyway, but deep down they know it’s wrong. Professor J. Budziszewski of the University of Texas at Austin says that even serial killers know murder is wrong – they just may not feel remorse.

Our reactions show our knowledge of the objective moral law

While we may not think that the ways we treat others are wrong, when people mistreat us, our reaction shows that we know what’s right and wrong.  Frank Turek and Normal Geisler share the story of a college student who wrote an ethics paper on how all morals are relative, that there is no absolute standard of justice or rightness.  He wrote that it’s all a matter of opinion, “you like chocolate, I like vanilla”. The paper was written well and turned in on time in a blue folder.  After reading it, though, the professor gave him an “F”, writing on the cover, “I don’t like blue folders!”  The student was enraged at this.  He stormed up to the professor and said, “That’s not fair! That’s not right!”  But the professor replied, “Didn’t your paper say that there is no such thing as fairness, rightness or justice?”

I may not think that stealing is wrong when I steal from you, but watch how I react with moral outrage when you steal from me. As Turek and Geisler say, “The Moral Law is not always the standard by which we treat others, but it is nearly always the standard by which we expect others to treat us.”

Without an objective moral law there would be no human rights

20071018_declarationAs Turek and Geisler point out, the United States was established by the belief in an objective moral law and God-given human rights. Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence :

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Notice he didn’t write, “We hold these ideas to be our opinion.  King George likes chocolate but we like vanilla.”  They appealed to a creator because they believed he was the one who gave human rights and that his objective moral law was the standard that would justify their fight for independence.

Almost two hundred years later it was because of God-given human rights, coming from an objective moral law that transcends national laws, that the Allies could bring Nazi war criminals to trial after World War II.  They were convicted of violating basic human rights.  If there was not an objective moral law that stands above national law, then on what basis were the Nazis condemned?  If there was not an objective moral law that establishes human rights, on what basis could countries ever tell another country that what they are doing is wrong?  The Nazis were tried and condemned because we all know that what they did was absolutely wrong, regardless of what their national laws and government said.


These are just a few reasons I give for your consideration. Next week I’ll continue with a few more reasons why I believe that there must be an objective more law and then we’ll look at the implications of that as we consider our view of the world.

Source: I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be An Atheist by Frank Turek and Norman Geisler


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Misconception: We Can’t Trust the Bible Because It’s Been Translated So Many Times (Part 2)

Posted on by Reasons for Hope 315 in Misconceptions, Reliable Documents | Leave a comment

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Misconception: We Can’t Trust the Bible Because It’s Been Translated So Many Times

Last week we looked at this misconception and I said that one of the reasons there are so many different English translations is because there are different approaches or philosophies to translating.  These different approaches produce translations that are good for different things.  Someone follows one approach to produce a Bible translation that’s good for reading, while someone else follows a different approach to produce a translation that’s better for serious study.  Let’s take a look at these different approaches.


Word-for-Word or Thought-for-Thought?

The two main philosophies for translation are word-for-word translation or thought-for-thought.  With word-for-word translation you try to pick the best English word for each Greek word, for example.  This is a very literal way of translating.  With thought-for-thought translation you translate more at the thought level, rather then taking each word individually.  So this is taking the thought in a Greek phrase, for example, and putting that into an English phrase that best communicates that whole thought.

To help you grasp the difference let’s look at  a modern example .  Say you wanted to translate ¿Cuántos años tienes? from Spanish to English.  If you wanted to translate it word-for-word, very literally, it would be how many (Cuántos) years (años) do you have (tienes)?  However, if you wanted to translate it thought-for-thought, it would be How old are you?  Do you see the difference?

Now, our natural tendency is to think in terms of “Which is the best way to translate?”  And with the example above  most of us would probably go with “How old are you?” because that’s how we talk in English.  Though we can understand someone asking how many years we’ve had, that’s not how we’d say it.  However, I’d say that there’s not one best way to translate.

john316A thought-for-thought translation is certainly going to be easier to read, because it’s going to be written more like we talk, but readability isn’t the only consideration.  When you’re wanting to do some serious study of God’s word you often want to know exactly which words were chosen by the original author.  Say the author repeats the use of a certain word several times in a passage.  In a translation that more word-for-word you’ll see that in English, with a translation that’s more thought-for-thought, this might be lost as it’s put more like how we’d say each of those thoughts today.   So for the purpose of serious study, a literal word-for-word translation is going to serve you better.

Not One or the Other, But Both

Rather than thinking in terms of “What’s the one best English translation?” I think it’s better to think in terms of “What are some good translations for when you want to do a lot of reading?” (maybe when you want to read the whole Bible over the course of a year) and “What are some good translations when you want to do some serious study?” (maybe when you want to dig in and see what the Bible says about a controversial issue).  I’m thankful that we don’t have just one English translation.  I’m glad that I can choose from several translations and even compare them.  By comparing several translations you might get the best sense of the meaning.  In the past that would have meant spending money on several translations but today you can access several translations for free online, like at biblegateway.com, and you can even put multiple translations on the screen side by side.

Some Popular Translations Compared


The chart above from Zondervan shows where several popular Bible translations line up on the Word-for-Word / Thought-for-Thought spectrum.

The New American Standard Bible (NASB) is about the farthest to the left, it’s a very literal translation that doesn’t always read very smoothly but it’s great at getting at the original words. (An interlinear translation shows the original Greek text with literal English words shown between the Greek lines.  This is a great tool but it’s even harder to read.)

On the far right are The Message and the Living Bible.  These aren’t truly translations but rather paraphrases where one man has put the text into his own words.  These can be helpful for a fresh perspective but they shouldn’t be confused with scholarly translations.

More in the middle is a very popular translation, the New International Version (NIV).  It’s been around since 1973 but was recently updated in 2011.  For many, this translation strikes a good balance.  If you’re not sure where to start, I’d start here.

Another popular translation, a little further to the thought-for-thought side, is the New Living Translation (NLT).  I’ve really connected with how this translation puts things many times.

For an example of a how you can do a side by side comparison click here.


So I hope you can see that having several translations available is a good thing and I hope that you’ll spend some time on a regular basis getting into God’s Word.  If you’ve already placed your faith in Christ it will help you to grow closer to him and if you’re still checking out Christianity, why not let the Bible speak for itself?

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Misconception: We Can’t Trust the Bible Because It’s Been Translated So Many Times (Part 1)

Posted on by Reasons for Hope 315 in Misconceptions, Reliable Documents | Leave a comment

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Misconception: We Can’t Trust the Bible Because It’s Been Translated So Many Times

Some have said that you can’t really trust the Bible, after all, it’s been translated so many different times.  There are a lot of Bible translations, even a lot of modern English translations.  Some people imply that there are a lot of differences between the translations and so we can’t tell what it’s really supposed to say.  But do all the translations affect the trustworthiness of the Bible, as some might think?  Let’s explore this together.


What Are All the Translations Translated From?

papy66bigThere are a few different issues involved in the misconceptions stated above.  One deals with the source of all the translations.  The Bible was originally written in Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament) (with a little bit of Aramaic thrown in in the Old Testament).  So how were all the translations made?  Some envision it this way.  The Bible was translated from Hebrew and Greek into some other language, Latin for example.  Then it was translated from Latin into some third language.  Then it was translated from that third language into a fourth language, and so on, until it was finally translated into English.  And so some people might think that our English Bibles today are a translation of a translation of a translation, and so on.

Now if that was the way it happened, I’d agree that you would wonder about it’s trustworthiness.  It would be like the telephone game where one person tells a story to another person, who tells it to another, and so on, and by the time it gets around to the end, the story has changed a lot.  But that’s not how the Bible was translated.  When the Bible is translated it is always translated directly from the original Hebrew and Greek into the language of that translation.  They are not translations of translations.  In the case of each of the English Bible translation you see on a store’s shelves, the translators worked from the original languages and did what they thought was best to translate it into English.

What Are the Differences and Why Do We Have So Many in English?

Naturally, whenever there’s more than one translation of something there are going to be differences.  English has a lot of different ways of saying the same thing and no two people talk or write exactly alike.  Two different translators (or teams of translators, as is the case with each major English Bible translation) are going to translate in slightly different ways.  They are going to make different choices and so there will be differences, but each translation should mean essentially the same thing.  So, yes, there are lots of differences between English Bible translations, but they are pretty minor and if you compare several translations I think you’ll find that they all say basically the same thing.  It’s not as though one translation says “love your neighbor” and another says “loathe your neighbor”.

bible-translationsBut why are there so many English translations?  The Bible was first translated into modern English in the 1500s.  The well known King James Version was translated in 1611.  Since those days the way we speak English has obviously changed.  While you can still understand those first English translations, it can be a challenge.  God chose to have the Bible written in the common language of the people of those days.  I believe he wants everyone to be able to read and understand his word.  So since English continues to change, I think it’s good that we continue to have updated English translations so that everyone can easily read and understand the Bible.

The second reason there are so many English translations is that there are different approaches and philosophies to translating.  These different approaches produce translations that are good for different purposes, reading, study, etc.  Next week we’ll look at these different approaches and compare some  of the more common translations produced by them.  As we do I think you’ll see that having a lot of translations is a good thing,  not a bad thing.

I believe that God has seen to it that the Bible is trustworthy and is available for you and I to read and understand today.  Have you read it lately?  For a convenient online resource with several translations I recommend the Bible Gateway, it’s available in a browser version and a mobile app.  Access to God’s word is easier than ever.

Come back next week for part two.


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Is Religion a Source of Evil?

Posted on by Reasons for Hope 315 in Questions, Why Jesus Came | Leave a comment

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Is Religion a Source of Evil?

Some have said something like, “More wars have been fought and more blood has been shed in the name of God than any other cause. Religion is the greatest source of evil in the world.”  But is that true?  The facts show otherwise.

Though one can point to witch hunts, crusades and religious jihad, as Greg Koukl has said, the historical facts show that the greatest evil has always resulted from the denial of God, not the pursuit of him.

Dennis Prager notes that in the 20th century alone, “more innocent people have been murdered, tortured, and enslaved by secular idealogies – Nazism and communism – than by all religions in history.”

According to the Guiness Book of World Records, mass killings of unimaginable proportions resulted not from religion, but from institutionalized atheism.  There were 66 million wiped out under Lenin, Stalin and Khrushchev; between 32 and 61 million Chinese killed under communist regimes since 1949; one third of the 8 million Khmers – 2.7 million people – were killed between 1975 and 1979 under the communist Khmer Rouge.

And notice that these massive numbers don’t even include the approximately 6 million Jews and millions of others killed by the Nazis during World War II (something which is fresh in the hearts and minds of my family as we visited the National Holocaust Museum while in Washington D.C.)  While some would claim that Hitler was a Christian, I believe the facts show otherwise.  While Hitler was raised in the church and gave lip service to God while rising to power, once he was in power he sought to eliminate the church and replace it with worship of him as the Fuhrer. (See http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/churchhistory/godandhitler/)

As Koukl says, “The greatest evil has not come from people zealous for God. It has resulted when people are convinced there is no God they must answer to.”

What’s more, even when violence and hate are carried out by those claiming to be of God, that does not necessarily mean that that hate can be laid at the feet of God or that religious faith.  There are evil people in all walks of life and, speaking of Christianity in particular, since violence and hate are not religious duties for Christians  and are not a part of the teachings of Christ, then violence and hate carried out by someone claiming to be identified with him, cannot be blamed on him, as he would condemn it.

JesusOnCross_01We live in a fallen, sinful world.  I know that I am selfish and sinful.  I’m thankful that Jesus gave his life on the cross for us to take care of our sin problem.  He loved us so much that, though we have sinned against each other and God himself, Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins and rose again from the dead so we can be forgiven.  Now out of gratitude and love in return, I and large numbers of others, though we do fail, seek to live in his ways and share his love with others.

And so in this fallen world I pray that you will look to him, for he is our hope.  He is the reason for my hope and I believe he is he hope of the world.  One day when he returns, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4).


Souces: Tactics by Greg Koukl; Ultimate Issues, July 1989 by Dennis Prager

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How the Moon Points to a Creator

Posted on by Reasons for Hope 315 in Design | Leave a comment

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How the Moon Points to a Creator

lunar landerOur family recently took a trip to Washington D.C.  There we visited the Air & Space Museum and saw the lunar lander which is just like the one that took the crew of Apollo 11 to the lunar surface, when mankind first set foot on the moon.  It was fun for me to read and explain to my daughters about the space race and how we actually put men on the moon.  Those were exciting days for our country, and the world, as we actually visited that wonderful object in the night sky that has captivated the curiosity and imaginations of humanity for thousands of years.

But the moon is even more significant than most of us probably realize.

The Moon’s Significance to Life on Earth

Our moon is like no other. It is very large for a planet our size.  The ratio of the moon’s mass compared to the mass of earth is about fifty times greater than the next closest known ratio of moon to host planet mass.   Additionally, the Moon orbits Earth more closely than any other known large moon.  And what’s the significance of these things?  Because of our unique moon, the Earth, unlike the other solar system planets, possesses a stable rotation axis tilt.  This protects us from rapid and extreme climate changes and makes advanced life possible on earth.  It also circulates the warm and cold waters of our oceans.

So the next time you look up and see the moon, be thankful, because it if wasn’t there, we wouldn’t be here.  But that’s not where the significance of the moon ends.

The Significance of Solar Eclipses

Solar_eclipse_1999_4_NRSolar eclipses occur when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth, blocking the sun from our view.  A total eclipse occurs when the moon completely blocks the sun, as seen to the left.

But have you ever stopped to consider how unlikely it is that the moon can create a total eclipse of the sun?  How is it that the moon perfectly fits within the disc of the sun as we see it?

The sun is 400 times bigger than the moon but it’s also (coincidentally?) 400 times further away.  Because of this unlikely correlation, the moon seems to fit perfectly within the sun.  Other than this providing an interesting view for us, it has also provided for scientific discovery.   Because the moon perfectly shields the sun’s light, we can see the sun’s atmosphere during a total eclipse and can measure the constituent elements of it’s upper layer.  This is otherwise impossible.

If the moon was just slightly larger, it would block the sun’s atmosphere entirely.  If it was just slightly smaller, it would let too much of the sun’s light past and we wouldn’t ever be able to see the sun’s atmosphere.

What has this unique and unlikely circumstance lead to?  The eclipse of 1870 lead to discovery of helium.  The eclipse of 1919 helped to confirm theory of relativity.  What’s more, it has opened up stellar astrophysics and allowed us to understand how other stars work.

It was viewing a total eclipse of the sun in 1995 that lead astrophysicist, Guillermo Gonzalez, to see the unique connection between the fine tuning of the universe that makes life possible and the fine tuning that makes scientific observation possible.  Regarding eclipses, he has noted that the best results for scientific observation come from solar eclipses on one planet, Earth, meaning that another surprising coincidence is that the best place for solar eclipses is where there are observers of them.

The Connection Between Life and Scientific Observation

In general he has noted the connection between the factors necessary for complex life and factors necessary for scientific observation.  He says it’s either a coincidence or glimpse of some purpose.  He says, “The same narrow circumstances that allow us to exist also provide us with the best overall setting for making scientific discoveries.”

As another example, consider Earth’s atmosphere.  In our solar system, Earth is one of seven planets and moons, out of 70, that have an atmosphere.  Of those seven, only Earth’s atmosphere can sustain complex life.  Likewise, only Earth’s atmosphere is transparent.  Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn’s largest moon Titan have an atmosphere.  But even if life were possible on those planets and moon, that life would know nothing of the stars or even have a clear view of the Sun.  That’s because their atmosphere’s are hazy.  And so it turns out the the one atmosphere that can support complex life is also the one atmosphere that allows the observation of the solar system and galaxy around us.

Coincidence or Purpose?

And so one has to ask, is this another incredible coincidence, or is it a glimpse of purpose, as Gonzalez wonders?  To some maybe this is just another coincidence, but to me this is further evidence that the Earth, the moon and the universe were finely tuned for life by an intelligent designer, and it seems that he wants us to observe and learn about the universe he has created.


For more on this see Guillermo Gonzalez’s book, The Privileged Planet.

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Loving God with Your Mind

Posted on by Reasons for Hope 315 in Geek for God, Loving God with your Mind | Leave a comment

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Loving God with Your Mind

Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment is.  He replied,

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
(Matthew 22:37)

In the church today I think we’re pretty good at emphasizing loving God with all your heart and soul.  We emphasize connecting with God emotionally and spiritually.  This is a big component of worship today and that is good.  I think it’s very important that our experience of God be more than just head knowledge.  Our Heavenly Father wants us know him and experience his love personally, not just to know about him.  In my pastoral ministry I placed a strong emphasis on this.

So, while not taking anything away from that, I think we need to remember that Jesus also said that we are to love God with all our minds.  While there are dangers to just having head knowledge that doesn’t touch the heart, it’s also not good to have all the emphasis on the heart in the Christian life with little involvement of the mind.

brilliant_mind_cs2God has given us our minds and he wants us to use them.  He wants us to worship him with our minds, thinking deeply about him.  There is no deeper subject for us to think about and exercise our minds with than our great God!  We can worship God by thinking seriously about the truth that he has revealed to us and the implications of that.  The book of Hebrews says that we are to grow in our knowledge and understanding, moving on from the elementary teachings about Christ (Heb 5:11-6:3).  This is loving God with all our minds.


It is my hope that this blog not only helps you to share with others but also helps and encourages you to love God with all your mind.  We can do this in part as we analyze the evidence  of God in the world and contemplate how that fits with the truth he has revealed to us in his Word.  You don’t have to be an intellectual giant, you just use the mind God has given you and in the process you’ll grow intellectually and God will be worshiped and glorified.

So come back next week and together we’ll love God with all of our minds.

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What Do Ancient Writers Outside the Bible Say About Jesus? – Part 3

Posted on by Reasons for Hope 315 in Claims and Acts of Jesus, Reliable Documents, Sources Outside Bible | Leave a comment

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What Do Ancient Writers Outside the Bible Say About Jesus?

This week we wrap up looking at what ancient writers outside the Bible had to say about Jesus.  We’ll look at two more and sum up all that we can put together about Jesus just from these little known sources.


Pliny the Younger

Pliny the Younger was a Roman author and administrator.  Writing to Emperor Trajan in approximately AD 112, he described the early Christian worship practices.

“They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to do any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny any trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food – but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.”

This confirms several things from the New Testament, most importantly that these early Christians worshiped Jesus as God.  So this was not a later invention.  We also see the Christian’s commitment to live moral lives, according to the teachings of Jesus.  The last part is a reference to the Christians sharing meals together, as in Acts 2:42-46, and possibly the Lord’s Supper or communion.


Lucian was second century Greek writer who was critical of Christianity.  He wrote:

“The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day – the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account… You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws.  All this they take quite on faith, with the result that they despise all worldly goods alike, regarding them merely as common property.”

This again confirms that Jesus was worshiped by Christians.  It also states that Jesus brought new teachings and was crucified for them.  We also see that the Christians did not fear death.  He said they thought they were immortal.  This seems to be a reference to their belief that, as Jesus rose from the dead, they would too.  Worshiping and following after Jesus, the Christians denied other gods and saw little worth in material goods, sharing them together as brothers.

Summing it All Up

When you put together all that is written about Jesus by ancient sources outside of the Bible it paints a picture of Jesus that is quite consistent with what is written in the New Testament.  Frank Turek and Norman Geisler sum up all that we can know just from the sources outside the Bible alone.

  1. Jesus lived during the time of Tiberius Caesar.
  2. He lived a virtuous life.
  3. He was a wonder-worker.
  4. He had a brother named James.
  5. He was acclaimed to be the Messiah.
  6. He was crucified under Pontius Pilate.
  7. He was crucified on the eve of the Jewish Passover.
  8. Darkness and an earthquake occurred when he died.
  9. His disciples believed he rose from the dead.
  10. His disciples were willing to die for their belief.
  11. Christianity spread rapidly as far as Rome.
  12. His disciples denied the Roman gods and worshiped Jesus as God.

The Pictures are Consistent

Jesus picture same

I don’t know about you but when I see what was written about Jesus by those who weren’t his followers, it gives me even more confidence in what was written about him by his followers.  The pictures are consistent.  From all of the sources put together, it seems clear to me that the early Christians worshiped and followed the same Jesus, as God, as we do today and that the Jesus of the Bible is indeed the Jesus of history.


Sources: Cold Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be An Atheist by Frank Turek and Norman Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics by Norman Geisler

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