Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Why Do You Think Christianity Is True?

By: John Piper

Why do you think Christianity is true?
What compelling evidence do you see for it?

You can come at the truth of Christianity through several angles of apologetics and reasoning. Let me mention a few and tell you the one that is most existentially real for me.

1) One would be historical. I think arguments can be mounted that are solid and compelling—first for the existence of Jesus, and then for the death and the resurrection of Jesus—to give an account for why the apostles were the way they were after his death.

The arguments that Pannenberg and Evangelicals have developed for the resurrection of the dead—Who Moved the Stone?-type arguments—are strong and have helped many people get over the barrier. Because if Jesus has been raised from the dead, never to die again, and ascended into heaven, then we should take very seriously and credit what he said about himself. So that's one line of evidence.

2) A second line of evidence is called presuppositional. It says that without God and the Bible as an assumption all of our reasoning processes and all of our perceiving processes are not possible.

In other words, every time we start thinking and every time we start perceiving, something is happening in our heads which assumes something. And if you're going to have any kind of credible conversation about what you're thinking or about what you're seeing, then you are assuming certain laws of logic, causality, and existence which can't have any absolute significance unless they're rooted in God.

So everybody is talking nonsense, but hardly anybody will say, "We're all just animals talking nonsense." Even those who are total secular, naturalistic evolutionists don't like to be treated like animals.

When a dog barks, I don't assume he's writing poetry. But when a man puts poetry down, I assume he wants me to take him seriously as a human being who has serious meaning there. He doesn't like it if I say, "O that's just chicken scratch!" So he's assuming something unbelievably profound about the significance and the basis of what he's doing, which he couldn't do unless he had a Christian construction of God.

So that's the presuppositional angle. Here's the third one, and the last one that is most significant to me.

3) How do you, when you want to decide if someone's testimony or witness is true? You weren't there. There were no videos. There was no recording. And you have to decide whether what he's saying happened actually happened.

When I read the Bible, that's the way I feel I am. I'm reading Paul, say, the 13 letters of the Apostle Paul. And he's telling me he saw the Lord Jesus, that he was knocked off of his donkey on the Damascus road, saw the Lord Jesus, was commisioned by the Lord Jesus, and now is inspired by the Lord Jesus. And then he interprets all of that in terms of the gospel.

I've got to reckon, "Paul, are you a lunatic? Are you a liar? Or are you telling the truth?" (Those questions are usually used with Jesus: "Are you a lunatic, a liar, or the Lord?") I think it's a good argument, and I use it for the writers of the New Testament, not just for Jesus. I know that I've got Paul right here in my hand, and I want to know, "Are you crazy?"

So when I'm reading the Bible, whether it's the Gospel of John or Romans, I'm asking the question, "How can I credit what's here, both the testimony of the man and the portrait of Jesus?" And I think there is a light that stands forth from the text of the truthfulness of Jesus that is self-authenticating. And there is a kind of character for the writers that stands forth that is authenticating of their solidity and truthfulness, confirming that they're not lunatics or liars.

If somebody said to me today, "Just tell me in 30 seconds why you're a Christian," I would say, "The portrait that I see of Jesus Christ in the Gospels is self-authenticating to me. I cannot meet this man and have him speak like nobody else spoke and not believe him. He wins my trust."

And then if they say, "Ah, but how do you know that that person is not being created by somebody else?" Then I would say, "Then the person creating him is just as phenomenal, and they win my trust. And if they win my trust then they're not lying to me." The Apostle Paul is not a lunatic. I cannot read the 13 letters of Paul and think he's crazy or a liar.

So those two things:

-the self-authenticating portrait of Jesus Christ that I find in Scripture, and
-the character-endorsing way that the apostles write their books and reveal their own trustworthiness.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Week

So, I'm feeling a bit festive. I'm hopefully going to be receiving a Christmas tree in the mail. Yup, that's right...tree in the mail. My momma sent it to me, what a precious gem. Well, anticipating on the arrival of my tree, I also have this sudden urge to bake. The idea of having iced cut-out sugar cookies and mexican wedding balls out and ready to eat sounds marvelous! This week is going to get a bit busy though, between doing last minute shopping, cleaning and car maitaintance, where shall I find the time to bake?

But don't these look delish?!....

Also, I must plan a wonderful breakfast for Christmas morning...I'm thinking eggs, sausage, bacon, and some cinnamon rolls. Will that do? Well, I certainly hope so. I will post later and let you know how it all comes together!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Only One Life Twill Soon Be Past, Only What’s Done For Christ Will Last

Two little lines I heard one day, Traveling along life's busy way;

Bringing conviction to my heart, And from my mind would not depart;

Only one life, 'twill soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one, Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in 'that day' my Lord to meet, And stand before His Judgment seat;
Only one life, 'twill soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last.

Only one life, the still small voice, Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave, And to God's holy will to cleave;
Only one life, 'twill soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last.

Only one life, a few brief years, Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its clays I must fulfill, living for self or in His will;
Only one life, 'twill soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last.

When this bright world would tempt me sore, When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way, Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, 'twill soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last.

Give me Father, a purpose deep, In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e'er the strife, Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, 'twill soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last.

Oh let my love with fervor burn, And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone, Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, ‘twill soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one, Now let me say, "Thy will be done";
And when at last I'll hear the call, I know I'll say “‘twas worth it all";
Only one life, 'twill soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last.

-Author Unknown

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Manhattan Declaration

Here is the statement given from my pastor, Dr. John MacArthur on The Manhattan Declaration on Tuesday, Nov 24, 2009.

Here are the main reasons I am not signing the Manhattan Declaration, even though a few men whom I love and respect have already affixed their names to it:

• Although I obviously agree with the document’s opposition to same-sex marriage, abortion, and other key moral problems threatening our culture, the document falls far short of identifying the one true and ultimate remedy for all of humanity’s moral ills: the gospel. The gospel is barely mentioned in the Declaration. At one point the statement rightly acknowledges, “It is our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness, both in season and out of season”—and then adds an encouraging wish: “May God help us not to fail in that duty.” Yet the gospel itself is nowhere presented (much less explained) in the document or any of the accompanying literature. Indeed, that would be a practical impossibility because of the contradictory views held by the broad range of signatories regarding what the gospel teaches and what it means to be a Christian.

• This is precisely where the document fails most egregiously. It assumes from the start that all signatories are fellow Christians whose only differences have to do with the fact that they represent distinct “communities.” Points of disagreement are tacitly acknowledged but are described as “historic lines of ecclesial differences” rather than fundamental conflicts of doctrine and conviction with regard to the gospel and the question of which teachings are essential to authentic Christianity.

• Instead of acknowledging the true depth of our differences, the implicit assumption (from the start of the document until its final paragraph) is that Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant Evangelicals and others all share a common faith in and a common commitment to the gospel’s essential claims. The document repeatedly employs expressions like “we [and] our fellow believers”; “As Christians, we . . .”; and “we claim the heritage of . . . Christians.” That seriously muddles the lines of demarcation between authentic biblical Christianity and various apostate traditions.

• The Declaration therefore constitutes a formal avowal of brotherhood between Evangelical signatories and purveyors of different gospels. That is the stated intention of some of the key signatories, and it’s hard to see how secular readers could possibly view it in any other light. Thus for the sake of issuing a manifesto decrying certain moral and political issues, the Declaration obscures both the importance of the gospel and the very substance of the gospel message.

• This is neither a novel approach nor a strategic stand for evangelicals to take. It ought to be clear to all that the agenda behind the recent flurry of proclamations and moral pronouncements we’ve seen promoting ecumenical co-belligerence is the viewpoint Charles Colson has been championing for more than two decades. (It is not without significance that his name is nearly always at the head of the list of drafters when these statements are issued.) He explained his agenda in his 1994 book The Body, in which he argued that the only truly essential doctrines of authentic Christian truth are those spelled out in the Apostles’ and Nicene creeds. I responded to that argument at length in Reckless Faith. I stand by what I wrote then.

In short, support for The Manhattan Declaration would not only contradict the stance I have taken since long before the original “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” document was issued; it would also tacitly relegate the very essence of gospel truth to the level of a secondary issue. That is the wrong way—perhaps the very worst way—for evangelicals to address the moral and political crises of our time. Anything that silences, sidelines, or relegates the gospel to secondary status is antithetical to the principles we affirm when we call ourselves evangelicals.

John MacArthur

Saturday, December 5, 2009

'Tis the Season

So, it's that time officially. It's getting to look, sound and feel a lot like Christmas. The Christmas music playing in malls and store, the smell of pine, and ginger bread cookies and spiced candles burning in homes, and last and certainly least...it's getting colder outside. Ho-hum. Well, I have to say I'm pretty thankful it's not as cold as the mid-west. I really do not know how I survived 20 years out there...yikes. Anyway, let's refocus...ah, yes...the sounds of Christmas...

So, this year I decided to give a whirl at listening to some Christmas music. Never really was a favorite of mine, even the last three years of my life being a Christian. Well, let me tell you...was I missing out. As I listen to the rich words...TRUTH...of these songs, it has filled me with hope, joy and has brought me to worship. I guess I never really listened to the beautiful lyrics of these songs. Songs that I use to sing being an unbeliever...performing these songs at Catholic mass. It struck me that I was singing TRUTH, but did not know Him. Then I thought...I have sung these songs as a believer, and have not really fully focused on all of the words. Unbelievable! I thought about the church, all believers, who will be singing these words during this season, with a distracted and unfocused heart. I prayed and will continue to pray that these songs of praise will be worship to Him who has given us grace and mercy. I thought of all the unbelievers who will be singing these songs during the season, who do not have a personal relationship with the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I prayed, and also will continue to pray that if even one, be transformed by the words and bow down and worship the Lord this season.

That is what is on my heart. That we will be sweet sounds of worship acceptable to Him, and that many will repent and submit to the will of God and give Him glory. I hope that this will also be on your heart.

"Highest, most holy,
Light of light eternal,
Born of a virgin,
A mortal He comes;
Son of the Father
Now in flesh appearing!
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Oh, come, let us adore him,
Christ the Lord."