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Jesus Came to Make the Father Known: A Christmas Eve Sermon

This is one in a series of Advent sermons. The series is entitled Why Did Jesus Come?
Tonight we answer the question of why Jesus came by considering what we are told in the prologue of John’s Gospel.
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth… 16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known (John 1:1-5, 14, 16-18).
I want to zero in particularly on this last statement, “…

40 Answers to Give an Atheist, pt. 2

Here are my responses to questions 13-17 of Thomas Swan’s 40 Questions to Ask a Christian. For answers to questions 1-12, scroll down or click here.
13.  If organized religion requires a civilization in which to spread, how could this civilization exist without first having a moral code to make us civil?
There never was a time (or place) when human beings lived together without a moral code. It’s never a question of whether a civilization has a moral code or not, but which moral code it will have. As mentioned in answer to question 12, the image of God in man guarantees an inescapable knowledge of the basics of good and evil. Individuals and societies alike either conform or fail to conform to this innate moral knowledge.
The question an atheist has to answer is this:  If God doesn’t exist, how can there be any such thing as morality? Don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that an atheist cannot act morally. I am saying that in a world where God does not exist, there can be no such cate…

40 Answers to Give an Atheist

I happened to run across a blog post today entitled 40 Questions to Ask a Christian by Thomas Swan. As I have time, I will give a brief response to each one. Here are my answers to the first twelve.
1.  If a hundred different religions have to be wrong for yours to be right, does this show that people from all over the world like to invent gods that don’t exist?
Yes it does. And Scripture makes this same observation also. When people do not like the God who is, they manufacture gods more suitable to their tastes (Rom. 1:18-25; cf. Ps. 106:20).
The implication, however, is that if so many gods are “invented,” the God of the Bible must be invented too. This is about as persuasive as arguing that the existence of thousands of Elvis impersonators means there never was any such thing as the real thing.
2.  If your parents had belonged to a different religion, do you think you would belong to that religion too?
Yes, it is quite likely. But it is logically irrelevant to whether a particular reli…

Either/Or or Both/And

I have never quite understood those Christians who have said that believers should not be politically active by supporting candidates, contributing to campaigns, speaking out on the issues of the day (even from the pulpit), and advocating for particular pieces of legislation and public policy. “Just preach the gospel,” they say, “and when people’s hearts are changed, culture and the law will change, too. In the meantime lead by example.”
I am all for preaching the gospel. I readily admit that changed hearts eventually result in a change in culture and the law. And it’s true that example is a powerful thing. But why must we think of the matter as an either/or proposition:  either we preach the gospel and lead by example, or we are politically active? Why can we not do both?
Imagine yourself living in the days when the slave trade flourished and you felt compelled by Christian conviction to speak out against it and to support officials who had similar convictions. And suppose some well-m…

Patriotism or Idolatry?

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We have a natural affinity for those who are closest to us:  our spouse, our children, our church, our school, community, country, etc. We are attached to them emotionally and otherwise precisely because they are ours.
All this is well and good. It is as it should be. God created us to live in just these kinds of covenantal relationships. We should love them and feel a sense of loyalty to them and even take pride in them. But such love, loyalty, and pride have their limits. They must not exceed our love and loyalty to God.
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me (Matt. 10:37).
If this is so—that not even the love we have for the members of our immediate family (as great as that love is and should be) may take precedence over our commitment to the Lord—how much more is it true of every other relationship, including our love of country?
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been proudly flying the stars and stri…

The Ethics of Killing in Self-Defense

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With the George Zimmerman trial in full swing, we might benefit from considering what the Scriptures teach concerning the ethics of killing in self-defense. The subject is broached in Exodus 22:1-4. The passage as a whole is concerned with the crime of theft, and in what manner a thief is to make restitution for his crime, but verses 2-3a deal with a special case—that of a homeowner who uses lethal force to protect himself and his property.
If a thief is found breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him, but if the sun has risen on him, there shall be bloodguilt for him.
The concern of the law at this point is to determine when a homeowner is and is not justified in using deadly force against a thief. In short, he is justified when the thief is actually caught in the act. If a thief is found breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him (v. 2). The meaning is:  the homeowner shall not be charged with criminal homicid…

He Made Them Male and Female

Last week we began to examine what the Bible teaches concerning man. Some of the most important points we considered were that (1) man is not the product of blind evolutionary forces, but is instead the very handiwork of God; (2) the creation of man was a collaborative effort of the Holy Trinity; (3) man was created in the image of God; (4) the human race is one (implication:  since we are all descendants of one man, we are all distantly related and there is no room in the thinking of a Christian for racism); and (5) man was created to glorify God.
What we did not have time for last week, but is nevertheless essential for us to discuss—especially after the decisions of the Supreme Court this past week—is the fact that God made man male and female. In our opening text we read this:
So God created man in his own image,             in the image of God he created him;             male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)
And then in chapter two we have the details. Chapter one gives us a…