Saturday, March 24, 2018



Brian confessed that he had been interested in philosophy. I thought I had sensed a note of surrender in his confession.

Brian had given up. Trying to grasp the meaning of life and his purpose within it was like trying to grasp the wind, as the wise King Solomon had concluded. However, there was an important piece of the puzzle that Solomon had lacked - the existence of the eternal, the culmination of God's justice and mercy.

Without this essential piece, Solomon railed that he hated life, even though he had more pleasures than anyone could dream of. However, Brian lacked more than just one piece of the puzzle. For him, God was no more than an uncaring energy-force.

I tried to explain that a satisfying philosophy was like starting to button our shirt in the right hole. If we succeed at the bottom, every other button will fall satisfyingly into its correct hole. If we don't, everything else will be out-of-place. Sadly, when our buttons fail to fit, we seldom go back to the starting place.

Brian wasn't biting. He knew his buttons were out of place, but he was content to just "enjoy" life, but could he?

King Solomon needed to know the purpose of life. From his limited perspective, it seemed meaningless. We die like the animals, the righteous and unrighteous alike, and we are forgotten. In light of this absurdity, even his endless supply of women and money could only provide a fleeting sense of pleasure.

A poor man who knows his purpose is richer than the rich man who cannot see his way. There was nothing further I could say to Brian. I could only hope that I had given him a candle for his journey.


God is always at work, and His work is always supernatural. However, we seldom perceive this. Consequently, someone just asked me:

  • Wouldn't it be nice if He could appear to us now. Why only then and then nothing after? 
I answered:

  • Along with many others, I have had numerous supernatural encounters with the Savior. However, these intense encounters came to an end about 35 years ago. Why? Here is my understanding. I had struggled with decades of depression topped with panic attacks which had left me devastated. The Lord knew that I needed those intense supernatural encounters to keep me afloat. 

Now, He expects me to walk "by faith and not by sight," even though there are times when I long for something more tangible. But why this miracle-lean diet? Why must we walk by faith and not by sight?

According to Jesus, we are blessed by walking in faith. When the Apostles had reported that they had encountered the risen Jesus to Thomas, he refused to believe without seeing Jesus himself. However, Jesus reprimanded him:

  • Then he said to Thomas..."Do not disbelieve, but believe." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20:27-29)
Why are we blessed by believing without seeing? Jesus wasn't teaching His disciples the blessedness of blind faith. Instead, He was addressing disciples who had witnessed His hundreds of authenticating miracles for three years. Elsewhere, He had taught that they should not believe Him in the absence of evidential corroboration - namely, miracles:

  • “If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father." (John 10:37-38; 5:31-37)
Instead, Jesus was reprimanding Thomas' stubbornness for refusing to believe in light of the many miracles he had already observed and the testimony of His fellow Apostles that Jesus had risen.

Well, how can having a miracle-lean diet be a blessing? Such a lean diet means little instant gratification. Instead, God prefers character over comfort, and character is the product of waiting:

  • Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)

If God had given me everything I wanted and when I wanted it, I would never have poured myself into His Words in search of answers. I would not have grown to know Him and to enjoy a relationship based on truth.

Consequently, David thanked God for making him wait by withholding a miraculous deliverance:

  • It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces. (Psalms 119:71-72)

Had David been miraculously rescued whenever he asked, he would not have received something better.

We are too ready to indict God when He doesn't answer our prayers and wrongly conclude that He is untrustworthy. We esteem our own understanding more than we ought. Instead, if we examine ourselves during these times, we should find that untrustworthy-ness belongs to us.

When we were babes, our mother held our hand as we took our first steps. However, eventually, she removed her hand to enable us to learn to walk on our own. She stood a distance away to beckon us to come. When God stands away and beckons us, we rail against Him.

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!