No Apologizing

Christian Apologetic, and Social Commentary in a world gone mad

Tag Archives: Romans

US vs. Slovania – Yanks Robbed of a Victory

I only saw the very end of the US vs. Slovenia Soccer match… but I’ve got to say the US got ripped off by the ref. With very little time left and the score tied, the US had a free kick which resulted in the apparent go-ahead goal, but the referee disallowed the goal because of some mystery call (no one knows for sure yet even what the call against the US was). Strange…

But, like many things, this got me to thinking about life – More specifically, it got me to thinking about the afterlife. And again, I’m amazed by the fact that we will not have an incompetent judge deciding our fate… and unlike the World Cup, our fate will not be decided by our own merit and/or performance either!

From what I’ve heard, the US probably deserved to lose the match because they played so poorly in the first half and fell behind 0-2 (only 21 other times in World Cup history has a team come back from that kind of deficit to tie or win). Like the US… All of us EVERYONE deserves to live life now and in the hereafter separated from a perfect and holy God. Unlike a sports team, however, we cannot just fight back and be good enough to even things out or make things right. Instead, because of God’s justice a penalty must be paid for our sin. Here’s where the good news comes in.

Jesus came and paid the penalty for our sin!  He didn’t just even things up… He made us winners… Here’s an abbreviated version of what the Bible has to say about it… Read these out loud, and ask yourself “What does this mean?” – Think about it… It truly is Good News!

Romans 3:23 – all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Romans 6:23 – the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 10:9-11 – If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Romans 5:1 – Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ

Romans 8:31-32, 34, 37 – What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

 Again, the US might have been deprived of a victory because of their bad play in the 1st half and because of a horrendous call from the ref… but those who trust in Jesus are assured of an eternal victory, though they don’t deserve it. Have you trusted Him? If not, will you?

Is God Evil?

Is God Evil?

What a question to ask.  When you look out at everything happening in the world how can you not help but to wonder?  We have seen a number of calamities over the last 10 years.  Just to name a few, September 11, Katrina, Haiti, wars, a tsunami, and recently earthquakes and volcanic activity.  In addition to these major events innumerable amounts of people have suffered pain because of cancer, murder, rape, kidnappings, divorce or whatever.  If God is a God of love how can he allow these things to happen?  An agnostic said to me once, “I refuse to believe in a God that allows these things to happen.”  And I’ve seen an Atheist write, “If their God is so loving why does he allow violence?”

Atheists will use the following argument to show that our God is not in control, and/or our God is evil:  “Your God says that he is in control of everything, this means that he allows bad things to happen.  This can only mean one of two things…God is evil because he allows evil things to happen to others, if you say that he is not Evil, but is in fact love, then God cannot be in control of the world because of all of the evil that happens.”

If you have ever been in a heated discussion with an atheist, or even an agnostic, this topic surely came up.  With an atheist, it came up as another reason for them not to believe in God at all.  If it was an agnostic, it came up as a reason for them to not believe in the God of the Bible.  Thus, either directly or indirectly, they claim that the Bible is errant, after all the Bible emphatically claims that God is good (cf. 1 John 1:5, Psalm 25:8, Genesis 50:20).

So the real question is…Is God Evil?  The simple answer….NO!

And not just a simple no, or a feeble no.  Not the kind of no you hear from your child as you ask them questions when they know they have been caught in the middle of a lie.  The answer is a very strong NO!

To prove this “NO” I am going to focus on two key points used by atheists and agnostics to formulate their opinion…God is not in control, and God is Evil.

God is not in control: Atheists and Agnostics alike will try to tell you that bad things happen because God is not in control.  So what do we know so far about God being in control?  We know that God is omniscient (all knowing), omnipotent (all powerful), omnipresent (everywhere at once).  We can confirm that God is everywhere, and that he knows everything.  But what does the Bible say about God’s control.  How does he demonstrate it in the Bible?  If you look at the Bible you will notice that God demonstrates He is in control, not only by the large things, but also with the smallest things. 

God’s word is really fascinating when is comes to His power.  God could simply say that I am in control of everything and be done with it.  But, what God does is demonstrate his power. Sometimes He does so in the most extreme circumstances (Sodom and Gamorra), others in the most simplistic circumstances.  Here are a few verses… God’s own words… about his control.

Matthew 10:29 – God demonstrates that he is in control of the small things.

 Mark 1:27 – God has the ability to intervene against evil spirits.

Amos 3:6 – God controls disaster.

Matthew 8:27 – God controls nature.

Proverbs 21:1 – God controls our leaders hearts.

Luke 22:31-32, Job 1:12 – God controls Satan

The Bible does not give us a simple statement, like… “God controls everything.”  The Bible gives us a complete picture of what God controls… which is everything.  Birds, demons, natural disaster, human hearts, nature, and even Satan himself.

All of this will lead some to the conclusion: Well, if God is in control of everything… God must be evil.  This is where atheists will try to catch you. 

God is evil: If God is in control over everything, we now have to show that the result of that is that God is good, rather than evil.  To demonstrate this we need to look at one of the deepest characteristics of God: His love.

God’s love is all over the Bible.  Included in this is the ultimate display of love, the sacrifice for others.  If God is love…how can God be evil? 

 How much does God loves us?

1 John 4:8 – God IS love

Romans 5:8 – God has demonstrated that love through Christ

Romans 8:38-39 – There is nothing you can do that can separate you from God’s love.

And the ultimate display in love…

John 3:16 – God sacrificed his only child because of His love for you.

Many question the motivation of God.  I know that I certainly have.  It has to be a natural reaction in some cases.  No matter what, there are two things that are constant, God is in control and God is love.  Everything our Father does is because He loves us … because He loves you.  The problem with the argument presented by many is that they try to force God into being one thing or the other.  If God is in control He is evil, if God is not evil there is no way He could be in control.  God is perfect in nature, and is perfectly capable of being in control of everything, and being love at the same time.  The next question some will naturally ask…why?  Why would God do these things?  Well….It’s not so much “do” as it is “allow”. God doesn’t do anything evil, but He does allow evil to exist and persist, for now. Why? Because He loves us too much to make us simply be puppets. We don’t always know what the specific reasons for bad stuff happening is, but what we can always bank on is that ultimately everything that happens branches out from His love for us. How does that work? Well… maybe next time.

No Shame + No Fear = No Apologizing, Part 3

Apologetics NOT Apologizing

So what does all of this mean?  We have no shame to share the gospel, we have no fear of what will happen when we share the gospel…so…what do we do now?  For the answer to this question we go to 1 Peter 3:14-16.

14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.(1 Peter 3:14-16, NIV)

Here Peter reasserts why it is important to not be afraid.  That even if you suffer, the Lord is with you.  Peter asks to not be afraid of what the enemy fears.  Here, in this context, he is saying to not be afraid to suffer or to fear the threats of those who WILL rise up against you, but look to the Lord.  Peter goes on to ask all of us to be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks. 

How do you prepare for a business meeting?  How do you prepare for a test?  Do you study?    Being prepared doesn’t mean that you go to church every Sunday and then do nothing for the rest of the week.  Being prepared means having your nose in the Bible constantly.  Being prepared is clothing yourself in the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:10-17), including the word of God.  Being prepared is expanding your knowledge so that you can be effective and productive while serving Christ (2 Peter 1:5-8). 

In the middle of v. 15, Peter tells us to be prepared to give a defense or answer to everyone who asks.  Here is where “Apologetics” comes in. Apologetics is not what it sounds like.  It is NOT apologizing; it IS defending your faith.  The Greek word that is translated “to give an answer” above and “give a defense” in other translations is “apologia”- thus the term “apologetics”.

1 Peter 3:15 is the result of having no fear and no shame because of your great love for Jesus and his word.  You should have no fear or shame because YOU have to be prepared to give a defense of the Lord to anyone who asks.  First, notice that the only qualifier attached to this statement is a defense to EVERYONE who asks.  There is no qualifier that would allow you to skip your answer because of your location, or because of WHO “everyone” happens to consist of. 

Next, Peter tells you how to defend and provide the answer.  Peter tells us that we need to answer everyone with gentleness and respect.  So provide an answer, but do so respectfully.  Why should we do so respectfully?    Peter makes the point explicit.  We make our defense so that we can keep a clear conscience.  That way if the people we are answering speak against us THEY will be ashamed of themselves. 

The point here is that they are armed and set against you.  WHY give them any more ammunition?  If you act like an idiot when professing the faith, how much do you want to bet that within 5 minutes after your answer they are telling a friend “What a real Christian, he/she was mean spirited, and disrespectful”.  How’s that faith working out for you?  The point: don’t be over zealous, and stay within the spirit when you give your answer (Colossians 4:6). Have you ever heard the phrase “He/She’s trying to hard”? That is what we’re trying to avoid here.

Have you been in a conversation where someone makes you feel guilty for believing what you do? Almost to the point where you want to apologize for professing your faith?  NO APOLOGIZING.  Folks, all of us have to understand that we have one mission in life, to Glorify God.  This can be done any number of ways, but it cannot be done if you feel guilty or if you feel a need to apologize to someone for what you believe. 

Be respectful when sharing your faith, be knowledgeable when you share your faith, but do not be ashamed or apologize for what you believe in.  What do you have to apologize for?!?!  If you have trusted in Jesus, you have been granted the greatest gift of all of humanity (a relationship with the God of the Universe).  Rejoice and be happy.  Don’t be afraid, don’t be ashamed, SHARE YOUR FAITH, DEFEND YOUR FAITH.  It is not enough to CALL yourself a Christian – BE one!  James 2:14-26 calls on us to do more than have faith.  Christ calls on us to put his words to practice, not just to read them (Matthew 7:26).  We should all be motivated to SERVE the Lord (Colossians 3:23, 2 Corinthians 5:10).

If we were to look at No shame + No fear = No Apologizing from as a Biblical formula it would look like this:  Romans 1:14-16 + 2 Timothy 1:7-9 = 1 Peter 3:15-16.  If you have shame it will alter the formula and ultimately the outcome. If you have fear it will alter the formula.   The absence of both shame and fear have to exist in order to get the answer of 1 Peter 3:15-16.  To borrow a phrase from the 9/11 tragedy: “Let’s Roll!” Let’s get to it without shame, without fear – with NO APOLOGIZING!

No Shame + No Fear = No Apologizing, Part 2

No shame + No Fear = No Apologizing.  In the previous blog we focused on the shame that some of us may feel when presented with opportunity to preach the Gospel.  We looked specifically at Romans 1:14-16 as the foundation for this principle.  In this blog we are going to build onto the formula by taking a look a fear in preaching the gospel. While at face value shame and fear can look the same as you will see they are distinctly different.

So now that you are convinced that you are not to be ashamed, what if you become afraid? The truth is that there is no shortage of God’s word about what to do with fear (Deuteronomy 31:6, 1 John 4:18, Isaiah 41:10, Psalm 23 are but a few examples).  These verses serve as a foundation for every Christian that you have nothing to be afraid of or to be anxious about because God will always be with you.  In the context of this blog though, let’s focus on 2 Timothy 1:7-9.

7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 8 So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. (2 Timothy 1:7-9, NIV)

Once again I see your eyes burning a hole in this passage focusing on the word ashamed.  Why is this passage part of no fear instead of no shame?  Context.  Paul is writing this letter to Timothy as a prisoner.  Why is Paul a prisoner?  Focus on the word timidity.  The translation above is the NIV translation.  The King James Version uses the word fear.  Lets look  at v. 7 with the word fear.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7, NKJV)

Now back to the question, Why is Paul a prisoner?  Because he showed no fear in speaking the truth even though he knew, more than likely, that the consequences of the truth would be prison.  Once again Paul is leading by example.  In these verses he is calling on Timothy to show the spirit of power that God had given him (v. 7).  In this context Paul is imploring Timothy to not be afraid to testify about the Lord, or to treat him like the embarrassing uncle described in our last post, but to join him in a place of no fear.  What Paul so elegantly points to at the end of verse 8 and verse 9 is that our suffering is not because of anything that we have done, but is to glorify God through His purpose, and to demonstrate His grace.

Let’s be clear about one thing, if you show no fear in testifying about God and the sacrifice of Christ, there is a high probability that you will suffer.  Paul invites Timothy to suffer with him as though it is a birthday party! How amazing is this verse?  When you read 2 Timothy 1:7-9 in conjunction with Deuteronomy 31:6, 1 John 4:18, Isaiah 41:10, and Psalm 23 the full picture begins to unfold.  There is no doubt that Paul loved to preach the gospel (Romans 1:14) because of the impact that it had on his own life.  He had no fear of preaching the gospel because of the foundation that had been laid. That foundation is, God will not abandon us (Deuteronomy 31:6, 1 John 4:18, Isaiah 41:10, and Psalm 23).  As a result, Paul was more than willing to suffer for Christ because he KNEW that his suffering was for the glory of the God who loved him so much.

These actions may seem a little surreal, and actually demonstrate the amount of FAITH that Paul had in God.  Paul had actually relinquished total control to God.  Paul was walking in faith.  This made him righteous – this made him dangerously fearless.   Paul didn’t just talk about faith, he didn’t just read about it, and he didn’t just preach about it, HE LIVED BY IT.

The difference between shame and fear is the message delivered.  Shame will force you to water down a message and make it palatable to an audience (often to the point the truth is lost).  Fear will force you to not deliver the message at all.  When you have no shame, and no fear you have a straight forward message of truth, regardless of the consequences.  Do not doubt for one second that we, even in today’s society, can act the same way Paul did.  God has promised us that we will be okay – not comfortable – not necessarily even happy – but we will have joy and a peace that cannot be explained away.  What do you believe, your own emotions or an everlasting God?

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