Unexpected Response

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I’m a bit of a nut about the exactness of words, so one of my pet peeves is the incorrect use of imply and infer. “Imply” is something I do as the speaker; “infer” is something you do as the listener. Or you might say implying is like throwing and inferring is like catching. 

A big problem arises when I infer something that you didn’t imply. Or even worse, when I infer something based on something you didn’t say. People will often say something like this, “Since Jesus didn’t specifically talk about ________ then it must be okay.” In logic, this would be called an argument from ignorance: concluding that an action must be acceptable because it has not been specifically stated to be unacceptable. 

Statement #10 in our series asking “Is that in the Bible?” is—Love your neighbor. Is that in the Bible? Yes!  

Remember Jesus called “Scripture” all of the words we would now call “Old Testament.” So in Matthew 5:43 Jesus quoted Scripture: Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord (Leviticus 19:18). 

Later on, Jesus would add to this Deuteronomy 6:5—Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength—to answer the question about the greatest commandment of all. 

In Leviticus 19, the Hebrew word for love means love in the broadest sense of the word, and neighbor means a friend or a fellow citizen. Unfortunately, the rabbis inferred that someone not a Jew was therefore an enemy and therefore not worthy of love. They further inferred that the opposite of love was hate. 

Matthew Henry commented, “They were willing to infer what God never designed.” 

Statement #11 is—Hate your enemy. Is that in the Bible? Yes, in the fact that it appears in print in Matthew 5:43, but it doesn’t appear in the Scripture that Jesus knew. It had become so ingrained in the thinking of people that they now assumed it was in the Bible. 

In many ways, the Old Testament laws were easier to live out because they were all external and easy to measure, like don’t murder or don’t sleep with someone who isn’t your spouse. But Jesus made it a heart issue—He said lust is the same as adultery and hate is the same as murder. 

Jesus also made love for enemies a heart issue. The word He used for love in the Greek is agape—the same word describing God’s love for His enemies in John 3:16—For God so LOVED the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish but would have everlasting life. 

Jesus said our enemies were really our neighbors and were worthy of sacrificial love because they, too, were loved by God. 

Matthew 5:44 is shortened in the NIV and has a footnote explaining that the longer verse was not seen in the earlier manuscripts. But given the fact that Jesus demonstrated everything found in the longer version of this verse, I think we are safe in using it. So let’s look at the response Jesus calls us to from the NKJV: But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. 

Here’s what Jesus says it means for us to love our enemies:

(1) Bless the cursers. We’ve all been “cursed out” with nasty, hateful words. When that happens, Jesus wants to bless that neighbor. The word He used for bless literally means to say good words. 

(2) Help the haters. Jesus said we are to do those things that are beautiful and excellent—like the good Good Samaritan did for his enemy-turned-neighbor (see Luke 10:25-37).  

(3) Pray for the persecutors. Talk to God about them; don’t talk to others about them. 

This response from Christians toward people whom others would call an enemy is totally unexpected by the world. This unexpected response will begin to draw enemies toward Jesus (1 Peter 2:12). If we will treat enemies and neighbors, they may soon become brothers and sisters in the family of God! 

When the world hits us Christians out of hate, let’s respond with unexpected love: blessing those who curse us, helping those who hurt us, and praying for those who persecute us. 

If you’ve missed any of the other messages in our Is That In The Bible? series, you can find the full list by clicking here. 

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—Logical Conclusions

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Logical Conclusions 

     Every doctrine of the Word of God has its practical bearing. … Hence you will find the apostle Paul very full of ‘therefores.’ … I marvel that our excellent translators should have divided the argument from the conclusion by making a new chapter where there is least reason for it. 

From The Watchword For Today: “Stand Fast”

 

The Bible is the most practical, applicable, and timeless Book I know! In order for this Book to be of both immediate and eternal help to us, it has to be a book that is logical. The Bible is a logical book, but far too many readers miss the logic unfolding right before their eyes. 

In this particular sermon, Charles Spurgeon takes his text from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, so let me use that epistle as an example. There are three logic signposts that I would ask you to look for: therefore, so that, and if…then. 

Let’s start with “therefore.” I have trained myself—and I endeavor to train the folks in my church—to ask this question every time they come to the word “therefore” in the Bible: What’s that there for? Therefore always signals a logical conclusion to a set of premises that are constructing the argument. As Spurgeon mentioned, sometimes the verse and chapter breaks can obscure this, so we must always go back from the “therefore” to see what the argument was. 

I find the word “therefore” used three times in this letter in the New International Version: 

  • Therefore God exalted Him [Jesus] to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name (2:9). What’s it there for? Because Jesus was obedient, therefore God exalted His name. 
  • Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling (2:12). What’s it there for? Because Jesus has conquered death and purchased our salvation, therefore this is how Christians should now live. 
  • Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends! (4:1). What’s it there for? Because our citizenship is in Heaven, we must stand firm in that hope. 

A second logical statement to watch for when you’re reading is “so that.” This logical phrase, much like “therefore,” is telling us what comes next in light of what came before. I see this phrase multiple times in Philippians (1:10, 13, 20, 26; 2:15, 19, 28; 3:21). 

Finally, watch for those “if…then” statements. These also follow the logical argument of, “If you do this, then this will happen” or “If you ignore or disobey this, then you can expect this to follow.” I see this quite clearly in Philippians 2:1-2 and 4:8-9. 

Don’t rush through your Bible reading time. Slow down and watch for these very logical and practical arguments—the Bible is absolutely full of them! By reading your Bible this way, you will be getting your doctrine directly from the Holy Spirit, which is the best way to know the heart of God. 

If you’re interested in digging deeper into this, I’ve shared some other Bible studies you can try:

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Supernatural Logic

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

One of my favorite classes that I took in college was a philosophy class where we studied the rules of logic. I found it so intriguing to learn how to construct or deconstruct an argument by looking at the premises and its conclusion.

One of the keywords that we would look at is “therefore.” This helped us understand what the conclusion of an argument was. If the argument was made well, what came after the “therefore” was a natural progression from the premises. With that in mind, I always keep an eye out for the “therefores” when I am reading my Bible. 

Except I have noticed that God frequently uses “therefore” in unexpected ways.

The classic rules of logic lay out connecting and supporting premises that flow to a natural “therefore” conclusion. But God’s conclusions typically defy natural, conventional logic. His conclusions are frequently supernatural! 

Notice a couple of examples from Isaiah. God’s people are suffering the natural consequences for their open rebellion against God. In my mind, the natural “therefore” would be: “You are getting what you deserve.” However, God’s supernatural “therefore” is: “I have taken this cup of My wrath from you” (Isaiah 51:21–22). 

In another example, the way God’s people were behaving and the way the enemies of God’s people were treating them, the natural “therefore” that I would expect is: “No one revered God’s name any longer.” But God’s supernatural “therefore” declares: “All people will know My name. All people will know I have fulfilled what I foretold, and all will revere Me” (Isaiah 52:6). 

Ultimately, these supernatural conclusions were proven true by Jesus. Our Savior drank our cup of wrath on our behalf and gave us His cup of righteousness in its place. The natural conclusion of Christ’s work for us is also God’s supernatural conclusion: God exalted Jesus to the highest place of honor and reverence (Philippians 2:5–11). 

My natural logic fails. God’s supernatural logic succeeds. Always! 

His supernatural conclusions should always lead to my revering and glorifying Him even more. Let me encourage you in your Bible study time to pay close attention to God’s “therefores” and rejoice in His Christ-exalting supernatural work. 

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Jesus On Trial (book review)

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I love studying Christian apologetics and learning how to explain to skeptics and seekers the eternal value in the Bible as it points me to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. David Limbaugh has given apologetics a new slant in his book Jesus On Trial.

Mr. Limbaugh uses his personal story from a childhood church attendee, to a skeptic of Christianity, to a reluctant seeker of the truth, and finally to a vibrant, growing relationship with Jesus. But he also lets us see how he examined the evidence for the truth claims of the Bible through the eyes of a trained lawyer. 

Throughout this book you will discover legalese terms like rules of evidence, items of probative value, rules of logic, and expert testimony. Each chapter feels like another witness Mr. Limbaugh has called to testify, or another piece of evidence that needs to be weighed and evaluated, and we the readers are empaneled as the jury deciding the case. As witness after witness takes the stand, as more evidence piles up, and as Mr. Limbaugh delivers his closing argument, the preponderance of evidence seems to make an airtight case of the truth claims in the Bible. 

Whether you are looking for answers or hunting for evidence to use in discussions with your friends, Jesus On Trial is a reference book to which I believe you will repeatedly return. 

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10 Quotes + 1 Infographic From “Cold-Case Christianity”

Cold-Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace is educational in a number of ways. Not only will you learn more about police investigations and courtroom deliberations, but Christians and skeptics alike will learn about the reliability of the biblical account concerning Jesus. You can check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“The Christian tradition is actually intellectually robust and satisfying, even if we believers are occasionally unable to respond to your challenges. The answers are available; you don’t have to turn off your brain to be a believer. Yes, it is possible to become a Christian because of the evidence rather than in spite of the evidence.” 

“Faith is actually the opposite of unbelief, not reason. … The biblical definition of faith is a well-placed and reasonable inference based on evidence.” 

“What about cases that have no direct evidence connecting the suspect to the crime scene? Can the truth be proved beyond a reasonable doubt when all the evidence we have is circumstantial? Absolutely. 

“Jurors are instructed to make no qualitative distinction between direct and circumstantial evidence in a case. Judges tell jurors, ‘Both direct and circumstantial evidence are acceptable types of evidence to prove or disprove the elements of a charge, including intent and mental state and acts necessary to a conviction, and neither is necessarily more reliable than the other. Neither is entitled to any greater weight than the other.’” 

“William Dembski (the well-known mathematician, statistician, theologian, and intelligent-design advocate) has argued that specified complexity (and, therefore, the intervention of an intelligent agent) can be identified by using an ‘explanatory filter.’ If an object or event (1) cannot be explained by some natural law that necessitates its appearance, (2) exists in spite of the high improbability that it could occur as the result of chance, and (3) conforms to an independently existing and recognizable pattern, the most reasonable inference is that it is the product of an intelligent designer.” 

“The early church fathers and leaders recognized that the Gospels were the eyewitness testimony of the apostles, and they set the Gospels apart for this reason. The ancient Christian author Tertullian wrote in AD 212: ‘The same authority of the apostolic churches will afford evidence to the other Gospels also, which we possess equally through their means, and according to their usage—I mean the Gospels of John and Matthew—whilst that which Mark published may be affirmed to be Peter’s whose interpreter Mark was’ (Against Marcion). 

“Skeptics cannot reject the reasonable inferences from the evidence we do have, simply because there may possibly be some evidence we don’t have; skeptics also need to defend their doubt evidentially.” 

“The reasonable inference from the circumstantial evidence is that the Gospels were written very early in history, at a time when the original eyewitnesses and gospel writers were still alive and could testify to what they had seen.” 

“Some have argued that the Gospels are late because none of the authors specifically identifies himself in the accounts. … BUT … The Gospels are not the only ancient documents that fail to identify the author within the text of the manuscripts. Tacitus (the Roman senator and historian who lived from AD 56 to AD 117) wrote a history of the Roman Empire from the reign of Augustus Caesar to Nero entitled Annals. Tacitus was, in fact, present during much of this period of time, but failed to include himself in any of his descriptions or identify himself as the author.” 

“While it is possible that the Gospels were not written by the traditional first-century authors and were given these attributions only much later in history, it is not evidentially reasonable. If skeptics were willing to give the Gospels the same ‘benefit of the doubt’ they are willing to give other ancient documents, the Gospels would easily pass the test of authorship.” 

“The most reasonable inference is that the gospel writers were present, corroborated, accurate, and unbiased. If this is the case, we can conclude with confidence that their testimony is reliable.” 

Cold-Case Christianity (book review)

From Perry Mason and Dragnet to Blue Bloods and Law & Order, I’ve always been a fan of watching detectives and attorneys sorting through all of the evidence to find the truth. I’m also passionate about Christian apologetics, so Cold-Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace is totally in my wheelhouse! 

Wallace is a cold-case detective and he’s also a Christian, but criminal investigative work was a part of his life long before he had a relationship with Jesus. In fact, Wallace grew up as an avowed atheist and openly mocked Christians for their “faith.” That is until someone challenged him to investigate the claims of the Bible regarding Jesus as he would investigate one of his cases. 

The similarities are fascinating. In most cases, Wallace cannot interview eyewitnesses, but has to rely on other evidence. Slowly, diligently, he tracks down each lead to come to the most reasonable conclusion. It was exactly the same with the biblical claims about Jesus: the eyewitnesses have long since died. Using his talents for successfully solving crimes which had been left unsolved for years and years, Wallace one day told his wife, “I think it might be true. I think Jesus is who the Bible says He is.” 

Wallace now shares with his readers how they too can use the same skills to explain to skeptics why the biblical case for the authenticity of Jesus is reasonable. He takes us out to the crime scenes as we look for evidence, into the interview room to talk to witnesses, and into the jury box to weigh all of the evidence. 

Skeptics of Christianity will find this book eye-opening, and Christians will find this book informative and helpful to them as they become Christian case makers. This book reads like a detective story to me, and I think others will be just as fascinated with the content as I was.

Interpretation Of The Scriptures (book review)

Bible reading and Bible study will be of immeasurable benefit to the reader if the Scriptures are interpreted correctly. Fortunately for us, A.W. Pink gives us some timeless principles for doing just this in his book Interpretation Of The Scriptures.

Pink acknowledges something that the Apostle Peter also acknowledged: sometimes the passages we read in the Bible can be challenging to understand. But Pink quickly adds, “God does not ask for blind credence from us, but an intelligent faith, and for that three things are indispensable: that His Word should be read (or heard), understood, and personally appropriated.”

In this book, Pink systematically gives us guidelines for the proper and effective interpretation of the the Scriptures. He does so by using many of the age-old maxims of logic and hermeneutics, but he also emphasizes the invaluable role the Holy Spirit plays in our Bible reading times. After all, the Holy Spirit was the One who inspired the writing of the Scriptures, so He is best able to illuminate the true meaning to our hearts and minds.

This is NOT a book exclusively for pastors and Bible teachers (although both will be greatly benefitted by studying this text), but it is for anyone who wants to read the Bible accurately, with an eye toward correctly applying the principles that God gives us.

I’m not sure how many times I have read through the Bible in my life, but while reading Interpretation Of The Scriptures I noticed a new attention to concepts and insights that I had previously overlooked. I highly recommend that all serious readers of the Bible read this book as well.

8 Quotes From “The Mathematical Proof For Christianity”

The Mathematical Proof For ChristianityDan Delzell uses not only math, but many other sciences as well to give some great conversation-starters. Check out my full review of his book by clicking here.

“I live in Nebraska where I serve as a pastor. Imagine someone covering this entire state in silver dollars 6 feet deep. Then mark one coin and bury it anywhere across the state. Next, blindfold a man and have him choose one coin. The odds that he would choose the marked coin are the same odds as getting 8 prophecies all fulfilled in one man. God fulfilled about 300 prophecies in the Person of Jesus Christ. … There is no way one man could have fulfilled all 8 of these prophecies unless God was making it happen. Who else controls history? Who else could give us such irrefutable proof for Christianity? The odds are one in one hundred quadrillion. Here is what that number looks like: 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000. (This mathematical proof was calculated by Professor Peter Stoner.)”

“What if jurors were presented with 300 pieces of evidence that all pointed to the same person, just like the 300 biblical prophecies all point to Christ. And so you see, you really can come face to face with reality, logic, reason, facts, evidence, and mathematical certainty before you decide whether to accept or reject the Bible.”

“The excessive skepticism shown toward the Bible by important historical schools of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, certain phases of which still appear periodically, has been progressively discredited. Discovery after discovery has established the accuracy of innumerable details, and has brought increased recognition to the value of the Bible as a source of history.” —William Albright, biblical and archeological scholar who mastered more than 26 ancient and modern languages 

“The order is for Christianity is: (1) Evidence; (2) Faith; and then (3) Assurance. Christianity stands upon evidence. It is personally received through faith that Jesus died for your sins on the Cross. It brings comforting assurance to those who have stepped out in faith to trust Christ. You will never have the assurance of salvation until you take a step of faith based on the evidence.”

“Jesus didn’t come here to merely provide man with one more option.”

“It may be stated categorically that no archeological discovery has ever controverted a single biblical reference. Scores of archeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible.” —Nelson Glueck, Jewish archeologist

“Archeological work has unquestionably strengthened confidence in the reliability of the scriptural record.” —Millar Burrows, University of Yale archeologist

“In addressing the manuscript evidence for the New Testament, John Warwick Montgomery correctly states that ‘to be skeptical of the resultant text of the New Testament books is to allow all of classical antiquity to slip into obscurity, for no documents of the ancient period are as well attested bibliographically as the New Testament.’”

G.K. Chesterton’s Fence

Some words well worth considering…

G.K. Chesterton“In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, ‘I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.’ To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: ‘If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.’

“This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street. Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable. It is extremely probable that we have overlooked some whole aspect of the question, if something set up by human beings like ourselves seems to be entirely meaningless and mysterious. There are reformers who get over this difficulty by assuming that all their fathers were fools; but if that be so, we can only say that folly appears to be a hereditary disease. But the truth is that nobody has any business to destroy a social institution until he has really seen it as an historical institution. If he knows how it arose, and what purposes it was supposed to serve, he may really be able to say that they were bad purposes, or that they have since become bad purposes, or that they are purposes which are no longer served. But if he simply stares at the thing as a senseless monstrosity that has somehow sprung up in his path, it is he and not the traditionalist who is suffering from an illusion.” —G.K. Chesterton

Links & Quotes

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Now that the Spring weather is here, get outside for some fresh air … listen to the birds, smell the flowers, look at the beauty around you! “A study of rodents, published in Science in 2013, indicated that the brain’s place cells are much less active when animals make their way through computer-generated landscapes than when they navigate the real world.” —Nicholas Carr

“We have men of science, too few men of God. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. The world has achieved brilliance without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. If we continue to develop our technology without wisdom or prudence, our servant may prove to be our executioner.” —Omar Bradley

“No man who enters upon the office to which I have succeeded can fail to recognize how every president of the United States has placed special reliance upon his faith in God. Every president has taken comfort and courage when told…that the Lord ‘will be with thee. He will not fail thee nor forsake thee. Fear not—neither be thou dismayed.’ … Each of our presidents in his own way has placed a special trust in God. Those who were strongest intellectually were also strongest spiritually.” —John F. Kennedy

Frank Turek has a fascinating post on why the Supreme Court of the United States shouldn’t allow homosexual “marriages” because of our 14th Amendment.

Innovation Adoption Lifecycle“If you want a population to adopt your innovation, you have to create a problem that is solved by adoption. And that problem is almost always related to, ’what about the others?’” Check out this insight from Seth Godin on product adoption.

 

[VIDEO] Greg Koukl addresses on Christians can demonstrate Christ-like tolerance and Christ-like tolerance—

[VIDEO] Dr. Bobby Conway and Nel Brace discuss a great tool for helping Christians defend their faith—

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