No Apologizing

Christian Apologetic, and Social Commentary in a world gone mad

Tag Archives: omnipotent

God is great, God is good…


I was recently asked to write a discussion board post on the problem of evil for my Apologetics class.  This topic seems timely.  All of us are aware of the evil that was done by the soldier in Afghanistan.  The interesting thing is that all should (and do) rightly recognize this act as evil.  However not all recognize the fact that the feeling that we all have, comes from a natural law given to us from God.

“God might be great, but if so He’s not good; He might be good, but if so He’s not great.”

A critic would make this argument in an effort to state that there is a contradiction between a good God and a God that would allow evil to exist.  They would argue that if God were truly Omnipotent then he could eliminate evil, evil exists therefore God is not omnipotent.  They make this argument because simply the world is full of evil.  One cannot turn on the news and see evil perpetrated.  A recent example would be of the soldier in Afghanistan murdering women and children.  It is not just the evil of man that is called into question it is the evil that persists from natural catastrophes that call this into question.  As Mackie put it “a good omnipotent thing eliminates evil completely, and then the propositions that a good omnipotent thing exists, and that evil exists, are incompatible”.[1]

“The fact that you think there is evil in the world nearly demands the existence of God”

This logic holds true in that evil must be defined.  What this means is that an individual who would make the above argument would not believe in God.  The result of this belief is that there is no absolute moral law giver.  Meaning that moral values become relative to the individual making the argument.  Basically, what is evil or wrong to one, may not be for another.  The fact that we are able to look at situation (Afghanistan murders) and declare it to be evil, indicates that we must know that murder  is evil.  However, in declaring something to be evil, one must give up the moral relative position, and assume an objective moral position (murder is either right or wrong).  This underscores the idea that an absolute moral law giver would need to exist.  As Geisler and Bocchino state “Therefore, atheism cannot logically offer a definition of evil without appealing to an ultimate standard of good.  If atheists try to do so, they end up affirming the very existence of that which they claim does not exist – the ultimate good (God).”[2]

Ultimately the conclusion that must be drawn is that an atheist cannot look at any given situation and say that it is evil without losing the sincerity to the world view to which they believe.  As C.S. Lewis put it “A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line”.  Atheism, when followed to its logical conclusion denies that there is any absolute right or wrong.  This is inherent in their world view.  All humanity experiences the emotion of feeling wronged or experiencing evil.  The only way to account for this is that we have all been given an absolute moral on that is written on our hearts.  This natural law was given to us by God.


[2] Geisler, N; Bocchino, P. Unshakable Foundations: Contemporary Answers to Crucial Questions about the Christian Faith (Kindle Location 2806). Kindle Edition.

 

Holy Spirit…..Batman


What is the Holy Spirit?  More appropriately asked… WHO is the Holy Spirit?  When does the Holy Spirit come into someone’s life?  How does it happen?  What gifts does He bring?  These questions can fill a 300+ page book.  Because the Holy Spirit moves in so many different ways there is no pattern for us to look at and say… ”Well, there goes the Holy Spirit!”.  It is perhaps this single point that divides a number of churches as to what the Holy Spirit is capable of.  I mean let’s be honest… our lives would be a lot easier if the Holy Spirit was predictable, and easy to figure out and when I get to Heaven… I am going to drop that in God’s suggestion box!  Since He is not, we are left to debate scripture, and sharpen our own iron.  The topic I want to cover in this post are the giftsof the Holy Spirit.  In order to do that, I feel like there are some points that have to be made.

First of all…  Though the Holy Spirit is a… Spirit… He is a real person.  He shows intelligence (1 Corinth 2:10-11, Romans 8:27, 1 Corinth 2:13), He shows feelings (Eph 4:30), and He has a will (1 Corinth 12:11, Acts 16:6-11).  The Holy Spirit also exhibits the actions of a person.  He guides us to truth (John 16:13), He convicts us of sin (John 16:8), He performs miracles (Acts 8:39) and He intercedes (Romans 8:26).  The Holy Spirit receives Ascriptions.  He should be obeyed (Acts 10:19-21), He can be lied to (Acts 5:3), He can be resisted (Acts 7:51), He can grieve (Eph 4:30), He can be blasphemed (Matt 12:31) and He can be insulted (Heb 10:29).  ALL of these things, all of these traits, all of these idiosyncrasies belong to a person.  They belong to the Holy Spirit, and one must conclude based on these facts that the Holy Spirit is a person.

Second of all… and perhaps most important… The Holy Spirit is God.  He exhibits all of the signs of being God.  He is omniscient (Isaiah 40:13, 1 Corinthians 2:12), He is omnipresent (Psalms 139:7) and He is omnipotent (Job 33:4, Psalms 104:30), and He is omnibenevolant (1 John 4:8; James 1:17).  His actions are also of God.  He caused the virgin birth (Luke 1:35), He was the agent in giving the inspired scriptures (2 Peter 1:21) and He was involved in creation (Genesis 1:2).

So can you get the Holy Spirit?  Sure!  But not through some 800 number or through the QVC.  The Holy Spirit is delivered at Salvation.  We can see this in Romans 8:9, Acts 22:16 and 1 Corinthians 3:16.  With the deliverance of the Holy Spirit we receive gifts (special distinction… it is not a reward).  Acts 11:16-17 (along with Romans 5:5, and 1 Corinthians 2:12) bear this out.

This is the Holy Spirit.

At this point we will begin to take a look at the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  First, we go Romans 12:6-8 for a pretty clear list of the gifts given by the Holy Spirit.  These would include prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading and compassion.  Another list is found in 1 Corinthians 12.  Here Paul goes on to be more specific.  Among this list are words of wisdom, words of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, working miracles, prophecy, discerning spirits, different kinds of tongues, interpretation of tongues, apostles, prophets and administration.

Pretty healthy list of gifts provided to us by God through the Holy Spirit.

I do feel like there is something else that has to be said here.  Specific gifts are not required to demonstrate that you have been saved.  There can be no doubt here.  Salvation is conditional upon faith.  The gifts are unique to each individual, and do not demonstrate salvation.  What I am trying to debunk here is any notion or idea that… if you don’t speak in tongues you are not saved.  This statement is biblically inaccurate.  The proof is in the pudding.  1 Corinthians 12:27–30 demonstrates this.  The questions asked here are rhetorical.  As I said before, all gifts are unique to the individual to serve the body.  There is no scriptural support that shows that tongues are mandatory.

These gifts are assigned to us all upon salvation and the indwelling of the Spirit.  All gifts are given to us individually, but are given for the benefit of the entire body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:4-7).

The remaining part of this post was originally intended to take a look at the gifts of the Holy Spirit as they function today.  This is a heavily debated topic amongst Christians from a number of denominations.  This is a point that Kevin and I heavily disagree on.  As we started to work through how we could display the debate we came to the conclusion that the debate itself needed to be its own post.  Our disagreement does not take away from the fact that we are both brothers in Christ, and that we can disagree (respectively) and sharpen iron.

In an effort to demonstrate this Kevin and I will be posting a debate on the gifts of the Holy Spirit as they exist today.  Specifically on the hotly debated topic of tongues, and prophecy.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are awesome.  There are a few things we can draw from all of this…The Holy Spirit is active, the Holy Spirit is moving, and the acts of the Holy Spirit are not repetitive.

The seperation of God…and nothing


What would you say if I told you that God is with us all of the time?  “Yeah Robert, I know God is with us all of the time.”  I understand the feeling that you have right now.  You know that God is with you all of the time.  But do you know that God is with us ALL of the time?  By now you are probably trying to figure out what I mean.  I mean that God is literally with us ALL of the time.  He is with you while you are at home, and while you are at church.  But did you know he is with you while you were at work?  Did you know he is with you while you are out running around with friends?  While you are at school?  While you are playing sports?  Playing video games online?  While you are on facebook, or myspace?  Our God is not a part time God.  He doesn’t work on Sunday, and then phone it in Monday through Saturday.  Unfortunately many “Christians” do this not realizing that God is always present, even if they want to pretend he is not.

Our society is bent on separating God from many aspects of our everyday life.  So far Sunday remains relatively unscathed, but Monday through Saturday is under fire.  The amazing thing is that many of us (who know that God is with us all of the time) not only act like he is not with us all of the time but also perpetuate the knowledge that God doesn’t belong somewhere.  What do I mean?  Have you ever heard someone say that God doesn’t belong in the work place?  Ever been a part of a policy that punishes those who are open about their faith?  Have you ever voted for someone who said that they will not go to the capital based on their own religious views, even though they are a “Christian”?  These are the same people who will vote for laws that edge God out. 

So where does God belong?  If you are in line with society, then:  He doesn’t belong in school…  He doesn’t belong in government…  He doesn’t belong at work…  He doesn’t belong in social commentary…   He doesn’t belong in holidays…  As a matter of fact there was news just recently from Davenport, IA, where folks want to rename Good Friday to “Spring Holiday”.  But what if I were to say that God, no matter how hard you try, is with you during all of those times.  Whether you acknowledge it or not God is always with you.  This concept is known as Omnipresence.

Psalms 139

The case for God’s Omnipresence begins in Psalms 139.  If you were to read Psalms 139 from beginning to end you would notice three distinct sections. The two relevant sections are V. 1-6 and then V. 7-12.  Let’s look at V. 1-6.  Here David is talking to God and saying, with reverence, how God knows everything he does.  David here describes a number of scenarios that are seemingly ordinary – Things that every person will do.  David proclaims that God knows him when he sits, when he stands.  God knows his thoughts, is familiar with all of his ways, God even knows a word before it even hits David’s tongue.  David finally says in V 6.  That such knowledge is too much for him to attain.  Here is an easy way to look at this: in V 1-6 David describes how completely God knows him.  He knows everything about David. His thoughts, his actions, even his words before they are spoken.   Then comes the reckoning: v. 7-12 describe David’s conclusion from v. 1-6.  What is David’s conclusion? Since God knows everything, there is no place he can hide.  Look at v. 7.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?

David confirms God knows everything (i.e. God is Omniscient), and the reason He is Omniscient is because GOD IS EVERYWHERE – at all places at all times!  Because God knows everything He is everywhere, and because He is everywhere He knows everything.  This should give you an awesome insight into the perfect nature of God.  One facet of God cannot exist without the other.  God cannot be omniscient without being omnipresent, and vice versa.

In order to validate the omnipresence of God we can look at a couple of real life scenarios in the Bible where God’s omnipresence was a determining factor in the outcome of events.

Let’s start with Jonah.  Everyone has more than likely heard what happened to Jonah.  He is the guy who found himself in the belly of a fish.  Have you ever wondered why?  God came to Jonah and asked him to go preach in a city called Nineveh (Jonah 1:1).  Jonah declined.  As a matter of fact, not only did he decline, and he RAN! (Jonah 1:3).  Why? It turns out that Jonah did not want to preach at Nineveh.  He knew that if he did, and they repented, God would spare them, and he didn’t want that.  So Jonah split – God said go East… and….Jonah went West.  God had none of it.  Jonah ran, got onto a boat and tried to get away from God.  God’s actions demonstrate that it is impossible to hide from God (Jonah 1:4-17). 

Next Go to Jeremiah 23:23-24.  In this part of Jeremiah the subject matter is lying prophets.  Verse 23 being the set up verse for the hammer in verse 24:

Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?” declares the LORD.  “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the LORD.(NIV)

This message in Jeremiah is the same message as Psalm 139, and the same message as in Jonah: God is EVERYWHERE – ALL THE TIME… There is no getting away from that fact. 

The separation of church and state has been so warped and misconstrued that it has permeated ALL aspects of life.  The basic premise behind that statement is that God does not belong.  Nothing is further from the truth.  No matter what you have been taught, or what any person tells you, God is WITH you ALL of the time.  You are on the hook for what you do ALL of the time.   So, the next time you find yourself thinking that you have to leave God on your counter, or someone is telling you that God doesn’t belong here who are you going to believe that person, or the Word of God?  Remember…God is always with you.  There is no place you can go, that He is not… What’s more – He BELONGS there!

What about this Satan Character?


God created everything.  This would include Satan.  Looking at the timeline presented in the Bible we know that Satan and his bunch of rebels were kicked out of Heaven before the creation of Adam and Eve.  Satan was the best and brightest of the angels.  But he had a flaw.  He wanted to be like God – Really, he wanted to BE God.  This naturally caused a rift between God and Satan, and of course God wins.  With Satan, 1/3 of the angels departed from heaven (we know them now as demons).  If we know that Satan fought against God because he wanted to be like God, we can draw some conclusions.

1.  Satan is not God thus,

2. Satan is not Omnipotent (All Powerful) and,

3. Omniscient (All Knowing) and,

4. Satan is not Omnipresent (Everywhere at once). 

These four simple points cover a lot of area.  Because Satan is not God, he cannot know everything that is or will be, and he cannot be with us all of the time and He can (and will be) defeated!

All of these points are critical to gain understanding of our common opponent.  Satan is an aggressive opponent, and knows how to attack people.  This statement implies a level of omniscience.  However, we have already established that he is not omniscient. So how does he know?  I believe Satan is an excellent observer of human behavior.  Let’s be honest – he has had thousands of years of observations to draw from. 

Observation is a highly effective strategy that is often used in business, sports and war.  People are taught to watch for cues that indicate what people are thinking, how they might respond, when to press, and when to lay back and let it ride.  Anyone’s personal experience is limited to maybe 20 to 30 years of active observation.  Satan, though, has all the years going back to Adam and Eve to draw from.  This gives me reason to believe that while Satan is not omniscient he certainly can provide a very educated guess as to how you will respond to temptation. 

While we are all created uniquely, we all are prone to various kinds of temptations which are not unique.   Our mistakes are not the first of their kind in human history.  This is Satan’s tactical advantage over us.  He knows that while we are unique in our creation, our response to temptation is not.  After thousands of years of observation of personality types, and responses, he knows how to trip a trigger and crawl into your life.  There is hope, though… See 1 Corinthians 10:13 While Satan has millennia of experience tripping people up, God, though the Holy Spirit, has been equally practiced at helping God’s people deal with sin… More on this later.

Everyone has their pressure points.  Do you believe that it is a coincidence that the same issues appear over and over in your own life? I never thought about it until recently.  Then it finally dawned on me:  Satan is real, Satan is clever and Satan is a very astute observer. 

The attacks can be sudden, and from out of nowhere.  There can be long pauses between attacks (demonstrating Satan’s lack of omnipresence).  Rest assured, if you are making an impact for God, if you are beginning to grow in your faith, or beginning in your path towards the truth, you will attract his attention and his ire.  This is where understanding your opponent’s tactics will really help you. 

Satan deals in half truths.  He wants to present you an option that appears to be in the nature of the Bible and God’s word.  This is the trick of Satan. 2 Corinthians 11:14 says that Satan masquerades as an angel of light. Here is an example.  If you are beginning to grow in your faith, then it is fair to say that you are trying to rid yourself of some bad habits.  Stress is a fantastic way to push people back to a default habit or personality trait.  Apply a little stress, and the normal person will revert.   Let me use examples out of my own life. Things like success are a difficult temptation for me because, while I have my moments, I am not a humble guy.  Another example for me is fear of betrayal.  Satan knows my weaknesses, and knows what I need to see in order to feed my arrogance and paranoia.  But this is not limited just to me!   Satan’s desire is for you to revert.  God’s desire is for you to succeed by becoming more like His Son – See Ephesians 5:1-2

Look at these startling statistics.  The Bible mentions Satan over 180 times, Jesus mentions him 100+ times.  Despite that, 60% of believers believe that Satan isn’t a real living being, but rather a symbol of evil.  The greatest achievement of Satan is to have convinced the world that he doesn’t exist.  Not only has he convinced the world but also believers. 

If you are a believer let me boil it down a little more strongly…You are willing to have faith that Christ was born of a virgin, Christ is the son of God, Christ lived without sin, Christ died on the cross for your sin’s, Christ was resurrected, and God created angels, …Do you really think it is so farfetched to believe that Satan is real?! 

Next time, we will look at specific strategies for defeating this very real and active enemy, but as a preview you may want to take a look at the following passages: James 4:4-7; Ephesians 6:10-18 & Romans 6:6-13.

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