Friday, March 23, 2018


Wonder beckons our awe wherever we look, even within the tiniest crevices. Regis Nicoll comments on the orbit of the electron circling its nuclear home base:
  • Unlike the Earth, whose orbit is slowly spiraling towards the sun, the electrons in an atom are held in fixed regions. But the real mystery is why, given its positively charged nucleus and negatively charged electrons, the atom doesn't quickly self-destruct. In fact, according to the laws of electrodynamics, atomic annihilation should occur in less than a microsecond. (Salvo, 2018, 15)
What are the laws that underlie atomic stability and what gives the laws their stability? Perhaps an equally great wonder is the nature of the "particles" that comprise the atom and everything we call "matter."

They are not sticky substances that magically adhere to grow up into planets, trains and planes. In fact, we cannot even call them "substances" but rather "potentialities."

The pioneer of quantum physics, Werner Heisenberg, surprisingly stated that subatomic "particles":
  • Form a world of potentialities or possibilities rather than things or facts.
This "reality" has led Nicoll to observe:
  • ...the quantum potential is immaterial, omnipresent, omnipotent, eternal, and the ground of all being. It sounds a lot like the One who announced, "I AM," from a flaming bush on an ancient mountain. (16)
Wondrously, mere potentials have given rise to a "concrete material" world where science has been made possible.

Yet, on their most fundamental level, these potentialities seems to be mind-dependent. However, the stability and predictability of matter doesn't seem to depend on our capacious minds but on one superior Mind that give it their order. 

This, of course, is an additional and unwanted wonder for the materialist who would rather deny the existence of such a Mind.


There are many reasons. For one thing, the resurrection is consistently affirmed by the New Testament and by the martyrdom of its Apostles and Church Fathers who chose a horrible death instead of life. In fact, there is no indication that any of them ever recanted.

However, I will just focus on another set of reasons. The only way to explain the growth of the Christian Faith in the very place that the crucifixion took place - Jerusalem - is by the resurrection. If the resurrection hadn't taken place, no one would have believed:

The Apostles had all abandoned their faith and were on the run. Their faith was only renewed by Jesus' post-resurrection appearances (Acts 1:3).

Many who hadn't previously believed subsequently came to faith, like Jesus' family. They couldn't possibly have believed after viewing the cross had there not been a great miracle of the resurrection to have changed their minds. Paul had provided an historical recitation of this evidence:

  • ...he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. (1 Corinthians 15:5-8 ESV)

For forty days, Jesus had appeared to His followers and even ate with them. According to Paul, on one occasion, He had appeared to 500. Just in case anyone needed verification, Paul added that most were still alive.

Paul had been so jealous for his traditional faith that he had led the crusade against the Church, putting Christians to death and forcing them to renounce their faith. Had there not been a resurrection, there would have been absolutely no reason for Paul to convert.

Many of the religious leadership of Jerusalem came to believe. Had there been evidence contrary to the resurrection, it would have been available to them there in Jerusalem, the very place Jesus had been crucified. They, therefore, would never have believed and risked both life and career unless He had been raised.

In fact, thousands came to faith almost immediately, there in Jerusalem. There must have been sufficient evidence for them to have done so.

Had there not been a resurrection, there could not have been a Christian Faith. Jesus had suffered the most dishonoring and humiliating death. No one would have wanted to be associated with such a death if not followed by the resurrection. Besides, there would have been nothing to celebrate and no basis to love their enemies without the promise of their own resurrection made possible by Jesus' resurrection. (How could they expect their own resurrection had not Jesus been resurrected!)

Instead, from the beginning, the Church attested to Jesus' death and resurrection through baptism and the Lord's Supper. They must have been convinced of the fact of the resurrection.

This evidence is so compelling that it has led several skeptics to conclude that Jesus' followers were convinced that they had met the resurrected Jesus. 

Why then do they not believe that Jesus rose? They tend to believe that the witnesses must have been hallucinating - but for 40 days, and all sharing the same hallucination?

Monday, March 19, 2018


The Bible is an un-natural and un-human book. This is because it doesn’t reflect the types of things that we humans would write. The Bible also makes a seemingly outlandish claim about itself - It cannot be properly understood without the assistance of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:10-16)!

Let me try to illustrate this fact. As a Jew (before Jesus came into my life)), I loved the Book of Joshua. Why? In this book, Israel was victorious. Of course, this made me feel good about myself, and so I continued on to the Book of Judges where Israel suffered one disgrace after another. That was enough for me.

An atheistic website provides another good example of this failure to understand the Bible:

·       From Genesis to Revelation prominent individuals abound. But are they really worthy of respect and admiration? Was their behavior such that you would want to awaken your children on Sunday morning to read about their exploits?

In many respects, not! The article confidently proceeds to line up all the misdeeds about these “prominent individuals” to prove that the Bible lacks virtuous role models and therefore its morality is seriously deficient and unworthy as a moral guide, let alone a divine revelation. For instance, the atheist writes that Abraham:

·       Told his wife to lie, debauched Hagar, his maidservant, sent his maidservant and her child into the wilderness, lied, and married his half-sister.

Although this is all true, it fails to prove that the Bible is unworthy of serious consideration. This atheistic interpretation confuses description with prescription – the description of Abraham’s life with a moral prescription for us. It fails to understand that Abraham’s life and the lives of the other Patriarchs were never intended to be models for moral behavior. Admittedly, they had done dastardly things.

The atheistic author even misses the real dirt about Abraham — that he pimped his wife Sarah on several occasions! However, this author misses far more — the grace of God for sinners like us! The article concludes, “Anyone approaching the Bible for goodness, decency, role models, and morality, enters at his own peril.” This, of course, is true! However, humankind fails to grasp that Christ is the actual role model and not the wretches He stoops to save.

Even the life of Israel’s greatest king, David, is also blemished by serious moral failures – polygamy, adultery, murder, and cover-up. However, even orthodox Jews will not face what is so clearly spelled out in Scripture. When I was explaining the mercy of God to King David, an orthodox Jew cut me off:

·       You don’t understand! The Talmud (a collection of rabbinic commentaries) explains that David was entirely righteous in killing the evil husband Uriah and marrying his wife Bathsheba.

However, this Talmudic interpretation is totally at odds with the biblical account, which reveals that God was angry with David over these sins. Although He forgave David, He also punished Him severely for them:

·       Then David said to Nathan [the prophet who confronted David about his sins], "I have sinned against the Lord." Nathan replied, "The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt, the son born to you will die." (2 Samuel 12:13-14)

This isn’t an honest interpretive mistake. The Talmud and Orthodox Judaism, consistently rationalize the very apparent sins of their Patriarchs and heroes. Why? They are unwilling to see what is plainly written! Why not? We humans want a religion that we can humanly understand and one that will flatter us. We cannot understand a religion where the founders of our faith acted in an embarrassing, undignified way. We want to feel that we are on the winning team characterized by elite and honorable people, not liars and pimps.

Throughout, in the Bible, the warts of God’s people are clearly evidenced. None of Israel’s kings get an entirely clean bill of health. They were all seriously blemished. It makes us wonder how the writers of the Bible were able to get away with these disclosures with their lives. It also makes us wonder what had impelled them to write so honestly about their kings and also about the failures of Israel. Even more surprisingly, we have to wonder what had impelled Israel to canonize such disparaging writings.

Even more startling, are the denunciations of Israel by the Prophets of Israel! Often, they didn’t get away with these denunciations with their lives. However, despite the fact that they were hated – the light is always painful – their writings were nevertheless accepted as the Word of God. Why? I think that there is only one way to understand this phenomenon – It was undeniable that these Prophets spoke the Word of God, however offensive that it might have been!

There are so many counter-human aspects of Scripture. While the Koran assures the Muslim that he is the greatest, the Bible assures Israel that they are the least:

·       Do not say to yourself, "The Lord has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness." No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is going to drive them out before you. It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the Lord your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 6Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people. Remember this and never forget how you provoked the Lord your God to anger in the desert. From the day you left Egypt until you arrived here, you have been rebellious against the Lord. (Deut. 9:4-7)

Moses never stroked Israel’s self-esteem, as anyone trying to gain a following would do. Instead, he repeatedly told Israel that they would fail to follow their God and that they would be consumed (Deut. 32:5-33). Despite these despairing messages, Israel received these insults as the Word of God. Why? They must have been convinced that these were God’s words! Why? His miracles attested to them!

This pattern – it’s all about God and His mercy and not about our worthiness - is maintained throughout the entire Bible. Jesus’ disciples were never complemented by their Master. Instead, the only two whose faith Jesus praised were both detested Gentiles. Meanwhile, the disciples portrayed themselves as bumbling idiots. Why? If they wanted to influence others in favor of their Christ-centered faith, why would they portray themselves in such a disparaging way? Who would want to follow such ignoramuses! Evidently, for them, there was something more important than looking good – the truth of God!

We humans like to exalt our forefathers and, by doing so, we exalt ourselves. The Talmud and the religions of the world are all too human in this regard. As a new Christian, this too was my tendency. I was deeply disturbed to read about the blemishes of Abraham and David. These seemed to detract from my new-found religion. However, as God continued to reveal to me my own unworthiness along with His forgiveness, I learned to delight in the incredible love and patience He demonstrated to His Old Testament “saints.” But my eyes had to first be opened!

This is perhaps one of the great ironies — the more the skeptic battles against the Faith, the more he inevitably demonstrates its veracity. Scripture can only be truly understood through the inner working of the Spirit!


Our Lord wants to give us everything:

·       …For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. (1 Corinthians 3:21-23 ESV)

We have been appointed to be co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). He will share with us everything He has. However, for now, we cannot now contain everything that He wants to give us without getting proud. Because of this, He had to even humble the Church’s greatest missionary, Paul, with an unspecified affliction:

·       So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ESV)

Even Job, the most righteous man on all the earth, had to be humbled before he was able to receive greater blessing. Through a series of questions, God humbled Job by showing him how little he knew. Job got the lesson and understood that his bringing indictments against God was a matter of pure arrogance. He therefore repented of his self-righteousness:

·       Then Job answered the LORD and said: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted…I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know…I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you;  therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:1-6)

In his arrogance, Job though he understood more than he actually did understand. Once he humbled himself, God exalted him. He then turned to Job’s three “friends” to humble them:

·       After the LORD had spoken these words to Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves. And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly. For you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” (Job 42:7-8)
Job had spoken rashly against God, more than his three friends had done. However, Job repented, and his sins were forgiven and “forgotten.” Job was now given the honor to pray for these friends.

What would have happened without God’s severe discipline? Job and Paul would have become increasingly proud and self-righteous. I know that the same would happen to me without the Lord’s discipline. I therefore thank Him even for the painful trials.

Sunday, March 18, 2018


Some say that Christ doesn’t make a difference – that Christians act the same way as others and that Christ doesn’t change lives. However, I know otherwise!

Anger and hatred are hurricanes that have the power to sweep away every defense. They are tyrants that override reason and even self-interest. Yet, I know that hatred is wrong. I even know that it torments its host, tearing it apart.

I saw the hatred that was consuming me, but I seemed to be powerless against it. Even its “arguments” were persuasive. They felt so right. Hatred placed its own lens over my eyes, and I saw only red.

However, the Word of God was able to decisively correct me:

·       Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good… Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them… Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:9, 14, 16 -21; ESV)

His Word came upon me with such force and conviction that it drove the hatred entirely away, the bully yelping helplessly as it fled. Instead, I was left rejoicing at the great privilege to love others, to “overcome evil with good.”

No wonder Scripture informs us that loving God and Christ-like-ness are about embracing and obeying His teachings:

·       If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. (John 15:10-14)

Keeping His teachings is our cure, our protective shield and the source of blessings. It even rescues us from ourselves:

·       Only be strong and very courageous [Joshua], being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Joshua 1:7-8)

No wonder that we are instructed to “meditate on it day and night.”

I am a man of many flaws, and they can be deeply troubling. However, I have learned something of surpassing significance – that our Lord brings strength out of our ongoing weaknesses, even Paul’s:

·       Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this [affliction], that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)

I too have learned to boast in my weaknesses. They continue to humble me, tromping upon my pride, revealing my unworthiness. However, this revelation translates into gratefulness and adoration of my Savior who loves me despite my unworthiness.

All of this has been made possible by the Spirit of God working through the Words of God. Their wisdom has provided me with exactly what I had needed. Here are just a few more examples.

I am always second-guessing myself, wondering, “Did I say the right thing? ...Did I say it with the wrong motives? … Could I have said it more effectively?” Although this perfectionistic preoccupation can promote self-improvement, it can also drive us crazy. I needed to lay it aside before it laid me out, and the Holy Spirit did this for me through applying Scripture to my life:

  • I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

What a relief! My failures were no longer my own. They also belonged to my Savior who promised that He would work all things for my good (Rom. 8:28), even my worst failures, nightmares, and humiliations! I was now free to fail. Not that failures no longer hurt, but I now know who will lift me out of my discouragement (1 Cor. 10:12-13), and He has proved this to me repeatedly. Consequently, Biblical truth allows me to constructively face my challenges without being overwhelmed by them.

We are also self-obsessed with questions of our goodness and worthiness. One of the greatest threats to our psychological well-being is the dread of not being worthy. This might take the form of a deep and abiding sense of shame, insecurity, or inadequacy. We might even worry that we are not even worthy of God. Therefore, it is such a relief to realize that none of us are worthy. We are all sinners who need the Savior:

  • "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." (Romans 3:10-12)

This had certainly been true of me. Even though I attempted to suppress the truth of my moral inadequacy before God, it would continue to resurface to my great shame. I tried to beat back this ugly truth with assertions that I was really a good and loving person. However, I was engaged in a costly war with myself, and the price was desperation, depression, and an internal battle which consumed all peace.

Instead of deriving my sense of worthiness or adequacy from myself, I needed to find it from another source, and Scripture informed me that Jesus is that source:

  • God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor. 5:21)

I could begin to accept the fact that I am entirely unworthy, because, in the eyes of my Savior, I am now entirely righteous. I could now face the once-shaming truths about myself and take responsibility for my behavior, because I have been assured of my ultimate worth before Him!

I no longer have to be right. My wife can now charge me with being insensitive, and I can readily apologize. We’re restored! Others can regard me negatively, but that’s okay because I am now defined, not by what others might think, but by what my Savior thinks. Yes, rejection still hurts, but it no longer devastates.

For the longest time, I had been feeling condemned. Even after Christ came into my life, I still had that sense. My feelings were so forceful that everything else – even Scripture – appeared as merely hollow words in comparison. I felt that even God condemned me! Finally, however, Scripture broke through, took hold of my self-contempt and torn it apart, like a lion tearing apart red meat. What a consolation it has been to learn that:

  • Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)

This taught me conclusively that my feelings of condemnation and rejection had nothing to do with God rejecting me, but just my own aberrant reactions! I could now laugh at these once terrifying feelings, knowing that they have nothing to do with my ultimate status! It’s like receiving a letter saying that there has been a warrant issued for your arrest. However, upon reading it more closely, you find that the letter is actually addressed to someone else.

Many say, “Well, I’m glad Christ worked for you, but many find consolation through psychotherapy.” I didn’t. I had seen five highly recommended psychologists, and each left me worse off that I was before.

Yes, they all affirmed that I was “okay,” but I could never believe them. I knew what my feelings were telling me, and they talked with a greater authority than the psychologists. I just knew I wasn’t “okay.”

Besides, their affirmations rolled off my back as if it was made of Teflon. Perhaps this was because I had been giving myself false affirmations all my life. I told myself I was the greatest but actually felt that I was the least. After a while, these affirmations became no more than an addiction. I needed them but got little out of them. However, having believed them – and this distorted my thinking and perceptions - they alienated me from reality, wisdom, and honest relationships. Because I perceived the world through my distorted self-affirmations, I also regarded others through this unreal grid. They were either superior or inferior to me. If they were seen as “superior,” I resented them. If “inferior,” I disdained them.

However, these affirmations bore little resemblance to reality, while I subsequently found that the Biblical affirmations brought me in touch with a deeper reality. Now, perceiving myself as an object of God’s mercy, I could begin to accept myself and even others.

Besides, our sense of okay-ness requires more than the affirmation of other people. They all say different things, and every experience - every success and every failure – sings a different song. Which was I to believe? Therefore, to base my worth on either the opinions of others or on my socially approved accomplishments meant that my worth was like the stock market – booming, crashing, and the cause of constant instability and insecurity.

Not only does Scripture tell us what to believe, it tells us what to avoid. It is not simply that certain acts are regarded as “sin.” These acts also destroy. Sin is worse than eating junk food. The latter just destroys the body. Sin destroys everything about us. It contaminates our thinking and passions (Rom. 1:21-32). For one thing, as a result of sin, we carry around unresolved guilt and shame. We even project our shame and self-contempt on others, convinced that others regard us in the same way we feel about ourselves. However, Scripture relieves us of these blinding burdens we carry:

  • If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. (1 John 1:9-10)

Instead, we often try to cover over this problem with a variety of palliatives – successes, sex, drugs, popularity. However, there is nothing that gives the relief and cleansing the way that confession does.

What makes the affirmations of Scripture so powerful – so life transforming? For one thing, they illuminate what had been shadowy and confusing. Once I began to understand myself in its light, I found that I began to understand others. With the assurance of God’s love and forgiveness, I could begin to face myself. As I saw my needs and insecurities – I had previously run from these and denied them – I could also see those of other people. As I began to face my denials and rationalizations, I began to understand the same defensive maneuverings I saw in others. As I received God’s compassion for me, I could more readily extend it to others.

While Scripture is foolishness and contemptible to the one whose eyes haven’t been opened (1 Cor. 2:14), it is the scalpel in the hand of the Holy Spirit. It cuts deeply to remove malignant tumors (Heb. 4:12) – attitudes and ideas that fail to accord with holiness. Such cuts are always painful (Heb. 12:5-11), but they identify and remove cancers that threaten well-being. They expose jealousy. However, they also provide the perfect antidote to resentment and jealousy:

  • All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future--all are yours. (1 Cor. 3:21-22)

In light of God’s assurances that He wants to eternally give us the world, jealousy had to take a back seat. And I had been jealous, even of the spiritual successes of others, convinced that they would receive heavenly reward and recognition, and I wouldn’t. However, Scripture assures us that all of God’s people are one, and “all things” would be ours. We had become joint heirs with our Savior (Rom. 8:17).

This is just what I needed to know. This truth stomped all the vitality out of my jealousy. I now rejoice as others rejoice!

Westerners have invented a new god, a god who is non-judgmental and non-punitive. Momentarily, this god might be comforting. However, once we have suffered victimization, our thoughts turn to justice, even revenge. Therefore, it is so liberating to know that we have a God who cares deeply about justice:

  • If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink” [ Proverbs 25]…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:18-21)

It is only because we have the assurance that God will bring justice (also through the legal systems He has ordained – Rom. 13:1-4) that we can devote ourselves to love. It is also because we know the undeserved love of God for us! Without this knowledge, revenge would become a way of life.

When I read about the estimated 170,000 Christians being murdered yearly simply because they are Christians, I want to grab a machine gun or suicide belt and right the wrongs. But my Lord informs me that He has a better way. He’ll deal with it! Instead, I should pray, love my enemies, and address the wrongs with righteous means. How liberating and personally enhancing!

Besides, the Holy Spirit will not validate an amoral god, a comforting god of our own creation. Consequently, we cannot believe in such an imaginary god.

This represents just a small sampling of the ways that God and His truth has victoriously infiltrated enemy territory to bring us new life. Volumes can be written on this subject. Jesus had taught:

  • "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31-32)

Not only has He set us free from sin and its various penalties. He has also set us free from so many things that have kept me in prison – fears, lusts, rationalizations, denials, addiction to self-affirmations, and many forms of self-deceptions. At least, these predators can no longer dominate me.